© Romantik Hotels & Restaurants

The hotel has since switched to old-fashioned keys.

January 31, 2017

Hackers took over an Austrian hotel’s electronic lock and computer systems, paralyzing the fully-booked hotel and its 180 guests earlier this month.

The hackers sent an email asking the Romantik Seehotel Jagerwirt, a four-star hotel in the Austrian Alps, for two Bitcoins (about $1,600) in ransom to regain control of the system on January 22. If they did not comply by the end of the day, the ransom would double.

Because fire regulations mandate that a hotel door manually open from the inside and can be opened from the outside in the event of a power outage, guests were not locked in or out of their rooms. However the hotel could not create new key cards or check in new guests.

They settled the ransom that day.

"Every euro paid to blackmailers hurts," the hotel’s managing director told CNN. "We know that other colleagues have been attacked, who have done similarly."

The hotel has been targeted four times since the start of ski season this year. But after this last attack, the owners are taking action and protecting the hotel from cyber attacks by replacing the electronic key cards with an old school key-and-lock system.

The hack was carried out via a ransomware infection, according to Bleeping Computer. All computers and the hotel’s cash register system were compromised during the attack. 

Local police are investigating the incident, but it is extremely difficult to find and track the perpetrators when they demand payment in Bitcoin.

The hotel is trying to raise awareness about the electronic key attacks in hopes that other hotels will be able to protect themselves against this kind of cyber extortion.

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