Alpine Hotel brings back locks after cyber hacking

 In Central European News, Chris Summers for Mailonline

Four-star Alpine hotel fell victim to blackmailers who hacked into their electronic keycard system and locked guests in their room (so they’ve brought back traditional locks and keys)

Romantic SeehotelJaegerwirt in Austria was hit by a gang of cyber blackmailers.

They hacked into the keycard system and locked all doors, demanding a ransom

MD ChristophBrandstaetter admitted paying, saying: ‘We had no other choice’

They are planning to remove cards and go back to old-fashioned keys and locks

One of Europe’s most luxurious hotels has admitted paying 1,500 euros (£1,279) to cyber blackmailers who hacked into their electronic key system and locked scores of guests in their rooms.

The hackers promised to restore the system at the SeehotelJaegerwirt in the Austrian Alps quickly if 1.74 bitcoins (1,500 euros) was transferred to them.

The managers of the four-star lakeside hotel at TurracherHöhe in in Styria said they had decided to come clean about the incident as a warning to others.

The blackmailers demanded payment in bitcoins, a cryptocurrencywhich is much harder to trace than euros or dollars +3
The blackmailers demanded payment in bitcoins, a cryptocurrencywhich is much harder to trace than euros or dollars

They are now planning to remove the entire electronic keycard system and replace it with old-fashioned door locks and keys so they can never fall victim to such a ruse again.

When the gang struck new keycards could not be programmed and the only alternative would have been to break down the doors manually.

Managing Director ChristophBrandstaetter said: ‘We had no other choice. The house was totally booked with 180 guests. Neither police nor insurance help you in this case.

‘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.’

He said more needed to be done by police forces and IT companies in Europe to tackle cybercrime.

Mr Brandstaetter said they had been hit three times by the cybercriminals, who managed to lock all the doors, trapping many guests inside and some outside their rooms.

The attack, which coincided with the opening weekend of the winter season, shut down all the hotel’s computers, including the reservation system and the cash desk system.

Mr Brandstaetter said: ‘Every euro that is paid to blackmailers hurts us. We know that other colleagues have been attacked, who have done similarly.’

After the ransom was paid the hackers unlocked the key registry system and all the hotel’s other computers.

The SeehotelJaegerwirt, which has existed for 111 years and is now owned by the Romantik Hotels chain, has now replaced all its computer systems.

Mr Brandstaetter said: ‘We are planning at the next room refurbishment for old-fashioned door locks with real keys. Just like 111 years ago at the time of our great-grandfathers.’

Cybercriminals often demand ransoms in bitcoins because it is much harder to trace transactions in the cryptocurrency.

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