Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt is a 4-star, 111-year-old hotel situated in the Austrian Alps. It is a very famous hotel and a sought-after one where tourists willingly pay around $300 per night. However, recently the guests staying at the hotel had to go through quite a lot of trouble as they couldn’t enter their rooms at all using the regular keycard. When they complained about the issue, the hotel could not find an immediate solution since the new keycards could not be programmed. Apparently, some guests had arrived at the time this incident happened and faced problems with reservations as the hotel’s reservation system was also not working.
Reportedly, the computers running the electronic key lock and other systems of the entire hotel were hacked, and malicious extortionists infected them with ransomware. It was a rather embarrassing situation for the hotel administration as failure to pay the ransom meant they couldn’t get their locking systems restored. Having been left with no other choice, the hotel admins had to bow to the hacker(s) demands.
It is worth noting that this isn’t the very first time when the hotel has been targeted by cyber-criminals. It has previously been a target of such attacks as well. So far, this hotel has been targeted by cyber-criminals four times. This is the third hack attack that has occurred during the winter season while one took place during the summers.
This latest attack is the most devastating one because the hotel had opening weekend and it was jam-packed with guests. During the previous attack, the attackers left a backdoor into the computer’s system, which made it all the more convenient for them to launch another hack attack. One of the four attacks happened when the hotel was about to install a new firewall on its systems. They had to turn off their systems and all the computers of the hotel were replaced to resolve the issue.
The computers targeted by the hackers were very important for the hotel’s functioning since they control the electronic key lock system, the cash desk system, and reservation system. The hotel’s managing director Christoph Brandstaetter stated that they opted to pay the ransom because “the house was totally booked with 180 guests, we had no other choice. Neither police nor insurance helps you in this case.”
Therefore, they tried to take the cheapest and quickest way to fix the issue, which was by paying the asked ransom of $1,600 (1500 euros). When the ransom amount was paid, the computers were unlocked, and the hotel’s systems regained their functioning.
“The restoration of our system after the first attack in summer has cost us several thousand euros. We did not get any money from the insurance so far because none of those to blame could be found,” Brandstaetter told The Local.
“We are planning at the next room refurbishment for old door locks with real keys. Just like 111 years ago at the time of our great-grandfathers” said Brandstaetter. This means the hotel intends to go back to the conventional ways and bid farewell to technology for the time being. This is why, the hotel’s systems will go through a technology downgrade, as Brandstaetter puts it.