The Seehotel Jägerwirt on the Turracher Höhe, Austria was hacked for the fourth time by cybercriminals.
The hotel has been operating in the Kärnten-Styrian ski area for 111 years. In the past few years, the hotel management implemented advanced IT systems for the Jägerwirt. Hotel Chief Christoph Brandstätter found himself in front of a locked computer for the fourth time. One day before the attack, a new firewall was installed to the hotel’s system. The new firewall was the reason why the last breach was the less efficient. This time, only a few files were affected, and all data could be restored successfully.
In the third attack, the hackers took control of the entire electronic key system. The guests were unable to get into their hotel rooms and the hotel staff could not provide new keys. Before the breach, the hotel was closed for three weeks and no data backup was done that time. All documents and reservations could be lost due to the cybercriminals.
The hackers launched a massive attack at the opening week of the winter season. They managed to shut down all computers in the hotel, including the reservation and cash desk systems, according to Brandstätter. The only option the hotel had was to pay the ransom the hackers demanded – a payment of 1,500 euros in bitcoins.
“The house was totally booked out with 180 guests, we had no other chance. Neither police nor insurance helps you in this case. The restoration of our system after the first attack in summer cost us several thousand euros. It was cheaper and faster to settle the ‘ransom claim’. The police investigated the PCs, but it was difficult to investigate such hackers,” Brandstätter said.
According to the hotel chief, he knew about cases where other hotels in the country were attacked by cybercriminals and were “treated similarly”. After the Jägerwirt paid the ransom, the hacker unlocked the computers and decrypted the systems completely.
“So back to the technology-less age,” Brandstätter said. “At the next room reconstruction, we plan to restore old room locks with real keys, as in the times of the great-grandfathers.”
The hotel chief spent 10,000 euros for additional security measures for the hotel’s computer system. He hopes that this time, this will prevent cybercriminals from hacking the Jägerwirt.
Earlier this month, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian issued a nationwide warning on possible hacker attacks on major civil infrastructure providers, including water, electricity, transport, and telecommunication firms.
“We should not be naive [thinking France could not face a cyber attack]… The number of cyber attacks against my ministry doubles every year. In 2016, about 24,000 external attacks had been blocked by our security services,” Le Drian said in an interview with French weekly Journal du Dimanche.
The Ministry of Defense of France believes it is time for both state-supported organizations and commercial corporations to lead major improvements in their infrastructures and security systems to prevent hacker attacks and loss of data in the future.