Austrian Luxury Hotel Pays Bitcoin Ransom to Regain Access to Rooms

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A luxury hotel in Austria paid a bitcoin ransom to unlock the rooms of hundreds of guests who could not get in or get out, according to The Local. The hotel was unable to reprogram new electronic key cards until the hackers restored the system.

The hackers restored the system in exchange for 1,500 EUR worth of bitcoin.

While the hotel has since replaced its computers and installed new security standards, it plans to install old-fashioned door locks with keys in the future to prevent such incidents.

Managers at the Seehotel Jaegerwirt, a four-star hotel on the Alpine Turracher Hoehe Pass, wanted to publicize the incident to warn others of the possibility. The managers also want more done to prevent cybercrime before the problem worsens. The hotel has a modern IT system with electronic room key cards.

The management said it was the third time cybercriminals attacked the hotel. This was the first time they were able to immobilize the entire system.

The hotel was fully booked, with 180 guests, said Christoph Brandstaetter, hotel managing director. He said they had no choice but to pay the ransom. Neither the police nor insurance can help in such a situation, he said. There was no reimbursement from insurance because the responsible party could not be found.

Also read: U.S. government: Ransomware attacks have quadrupled this year

No Option But To Pay Ransom

Paying the bitcoin was the least expensive and fastest way to resolve the problem.

Every Euro paid to blackmailers hurts, Brandstaetter said. He said other colleagues have faced the same situation and reacted the same way.

Once the hackers get the money, they unlock the registry system and all other computers, allowing the hotel to function normally.

The hackers left a back door open in the system and attempted to reattack. But they could not attack again since the computers had been replaced and new standards implemented. Some of the networks were decoupled.

Brandstaetter said the hotel will install old-fashioned door locks with keys the next time it refurbishes rooms.

Featured image from Seehotel Jaegerwirt.

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