Major hotel Wi-Fi security threat unearthed

Sophisticated hackers have been targeting high-level targets at hotels

Hacker, Wi-fi

For the past seven years, a sophisticated group of hackers have been gaining access to the computers of high-level hotel guests, including government officials, corporate executives and high-tech entrepreneurs, through hotel Wi-Fi systems.

That’s according to researchers at security firm Kaspersky Labs, which has published a report on what it has dubbed the ‘DarkHotel’ group of hackers, further suggesting that certain hotels may be seriously compromised.

They explain how the targets computers are infected through what appear to be updates for programmes such as GoogleToolbar, Adobe Flash, Windows Messenger.

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“At the hotels, these installs are selectively distributed to targeted individuals,” it adds. “This group of attackers seems to know in advance when these individuals will arrive and depart from their high-end hotels.

“So, the attackers lay in wait until these travellers arrive and connect to the Internet.”

The fact that the hackers have been able to target individual guests led the researchers to suggest that there was “misuse of check-in information”.

The vast majority of the attacks occurred in Asia, with most of them in Japan, and the report does not mention any activity in the Middle East.

However, it does that targets included the defense industry and government and non-governmental organisations.

The report concludes: “The fact that most of the time the victims are top executives indicates the attackers have knowledge of their victims’ whereabouts, including name and place of stay. This paints a dark, dangerous web in which unsuspecting travellers can easily fall.

“While the exact reason why some hotels function as an attacker vector are unknown, certain suspicions exist, indicating possibly a much larger compromise. We are still investigating this aspect of the operation and will publish more information in the future.”

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