Hotel Hack

Hotel Hack

You’ve jetted off on holiday and you are coming back to your hotel after a long day of shopping, relaxing on the beach or sightseeing. You are hot, tired, maybe even a little sun burned and all you want to do is have a cold shower and relax before dinner. You step out of the elevator and your room is only a few steps away. You take out your mobile keycard (the 21st century apparently finds a way to incorporate phones into absolutely everything, even accessing your hotel room), ready to be met by fresh white sheets. But the red light does not turn green. Instead, it lets out an obnoxious beeping sound and flashes red. Maybe it is the wrong room? No, 802 is definitely your room. So, you try again.

The flashing continues and the beeping permeates your ear drums. You have just noticed that there are a few other people on your floor having the same issue. After exchanging some confused glances, you decide to unite together to get to the bottom of the problem. You and your comrades go back down to the lobby, frustrated, and head straight to the front desk. The frazzled concierge explains to you that you no longer have access to your room…the hotel has found itself victim to a ransomware attack.

A hotel hack?

Not the holiday you were hoping for… A bad actor has managed to gain access to the hotel’s network through a spoofed peripheral and has hijacked the system that controls the keycards, with hotel management being unable to regain control until the ransom is paid. 

This type of attack is a very real threat to hotels that utilize the high-end IoT lock key. By using mobile devices as keycards, hotels are putting themselves at risk as each device acts as an entry point for a bad actor attempting to gain access to the network. IoT devices, although having many advantages, also come with an increased threat to cybersecurity. These smart devices are connected to the network and, should a malicious actor take control of one, a variety of attacks can take place.

Hardware attacks

Attackers are utilizing IoT devices when carrying out hardware attacks as they are easier to target. Hardware attacks require physical access, and this can be risky when there are numerous physical security measures in place. As such, IoT devices, which are used in less secure areas, are an ideal entry point. Targeting just one device can allow perpetrators to infiltrate the network and carry out attacks such as the ransomware attack described above and in this case, hack a hotel. Although paying the ransom is actually advised against, some organizations have no option as they do not have the means or capabilities to do anything else. As such, there is a large financial burden imposed on the victim, as well as a loss of productivity and reputational damage.

The best way to avoid these consequences is to prevent the hotel hack from happening in the first place. Since this was carried out using a Rogue Device, the ideal solution is to implement a Rogue Device Mitigation solution. By detecting and blocking Rogue Devices, an RDM solution would have not allowed the perpetrators to be successful. By closing the entry points, the hotel can keep their doors open…literally. 

August 11th, 2020