Romantik Seehotel Jägerwirt, a luxury lakeside hotel in the Austrian Alps, experienced a ransomware attack last week that was said to have left hotel guests locked in their bedrooms until the ransom was paid.

According to hotel owner Christoph Brandstaetter, “This is totally wrong. It was just a normal cyber-attack and no guests were locked in.” This ‘normal’ cyber-attack is the third the hotel has experienced within the last year, costing the hotel thousands of dollars to bring business back to normal.

Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack where data on an individual’s computer is encrypted and locked until a ransom is paid to the attacker, usually in Bitcoin.

Brandstaetter claims the ransomware attack locked the hotel out of all its computers until the $1,600 fee was paid to the hackers. Hotel owners were able to get in and out of the rooms of the 180 guests at the hotel by using their internal system, which wasn’t networked with the infected computers.

The main problem was that management was not able to issue new key cards to guests who arrived during the 24 hours the hotel’s reservation system was down. The hotel ultimately paid the ransom request.

While the hotel’s systems were up and running after the ransom was paid, Brandstaetter suspected the attacks had left a backdoor into the system and would attempt yet another ransomware attack. However, “nobody, not even the police, found the back door.” Brandstaetter went on further to say that the hotel is planning to change the key system altogether by going back to old, normal keys.

This attack on the Romantik Seehotel is by no means out of the ordinary. Kaspersky Labs recently found that 2016 was a threefold increase in ransomware attacks, with someone falling victim to attack once every 40 seconds. As the threat of a ransomware attack becomes more common each day, organizations need not wait around, and instead, implement solutions that can detect the presence of malware and ensure Device Hardening measures are in place.



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