A System on Lock Down
Last November, the entire Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt hotel found themselves at the mercy of an anonymous group of thieves. Their electronic key card system failed. None of the 180 guests could access their rooms. Hotel staff knew that guests were likely to be upset and the 4-star hotel’s reputation was on the line. However, this wasn’t due to a malfunction or electric problem. Hackers hit the hotel’s electronic key card system with ransomware and forced a complete a shutdown. In order for the hotel to regain control of their system, the attackers demanded a $1603 (1500 Euros) payment in bitcoin.
The only way for the hotel to quickly recover, save their reputation and keep guests happy was to pay the ransom.
“The hotel was totally booked with 180 guests, we had no other choice. Neither police nor insurance can help you in this case,” said Chrisoph Brandsetter, the hotel’s managing director. “We didn’t get any money from insurance because none of those to blame could be found.”
The hotel was able to restore their system, but only after they paid the ransom. In the case of the hotel, they did not have many options. The hotel management was able to get back into the key card system once they paid the hackers.
If they didn’t pay, they would likely lose business. To resolve the problem quickly and without drawing a lot of attention, the hotel paid the ransom. Now, they report that they plan to revert to the old system of traditional keys and locks.
A System with a Back-Up
D.C. police disclosed recently that hackers infected 70 percent of storage devices that record data from surveillance cameras right before the presidential inauguration. Between Jan. 12 and Jan 15, hackers hit the city camera system with ransomware. 123 of the 183 cameras were unable to record events.
On Jan 12., D.C. police noticed that four cameras were not working correctly. When they started checking the rest of the cameras, they found multiple forms of ransomware infecting most of the cameras in the network.
Fortunately, the police were able to restart their system without having to pay the ransom. But, it wasn’t an easy task. It took almost 4 days to disconnect all the infected cameras, reset them, and bring them back online.
“They literally worked day and night to get this back-up and running,” says Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham.
The D.C. police are confident that the hackers mainly wanted to extort money from the city. And they feel fortunate that this event did not extend to more computers in the network.
The Rise of Ransomware
The Romantik Seehotel Jaegerwirt hotel has only recently released information of the attack, in hopes of informing and preventing other such attacks from happening.
Luckily, in the case of the hotel, the ransom wasn’t a large amount, but often that isn’t the point. Hackers can easily access a system. Then, they demand a fairly small ransom. This method ensures that many people will simply pay that ransom just to be rid of the problem. It’s a volume business. A few hundred dollars adds up quickly when you are able to hit multiple victims in a short period of time and are likely never to be caught.
There has been a recent surge in ransomware. Though it is a small percentage of the overall attacks it can still be very damaging. And it’s not slowing down. With ransomware, hackers lock your entire computer system and don’t release it until the ransom is paid.
According to the cybersecurity company Lavasoft, people and companies in the United States lost $325 million to ransomware attacks from January to November 2015.
The Best Way to Prepare
The best method of attack with respect to ransomware is to have frequent backups performed. The more data you have, the more frequent these backups should be. For home computers, an external backup or cloud backup is likely to be sufficient.
But for businesses, it can be very different. Not only do you need to backup your data, but you also need to be able to recover it quickly. For some businesses, being down for even a few hours can be damaging. Imagine not being able to access your client files or process payments for even one day.
But, preparing for backups can also be difficult. You have to know where and how to backup large amounts of data. And you have to be able to recover it quickly. Many small- and medium-businesses don’t have the time to test and run back up checks frequently, so many businesses may not even know if their backup systems work.
This is where Managed IT Support can step in to help. A Managed Services Provider (MSP) like Higher State Technology can help support your business. By providing onsite and remote IT support, HST will help you analyze your network and choose the best backup solutions for your business. Not only can HST help you back up your data, but we will test your backup systems and restore your data systems quickly in the event of any type of disaster – including a ransomware hit. No longer will you be at the mercy of hackers and thieves.
If you want more information or support, Higher State Technology can examine your network to help you analyze your risks and create a plan. We will provide IT disaster recovery services that are tailored specifically for your business.
You’ve spent a lifetime working hard to get where you are. You earned every penny and every client. Why risk losing it all? Get the facts and be certain your business, your reputation and your data are protected. Call us at 512-900-9478 or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Higher State Technology (HST) Since 2004, specialists at Austin-based Higher State Technology (HST) have provided implementation, troubleshooting, hardware, software and managed services solutions for multi-location companies and for solopreneurs. HST helps companies safeguard their IT assets through network protection, backups and disaster recovery, antimalware and anti-spam protection, and other risk management services. HST offers remote and onsite IT support and management tailored to the needs of each client. For more information, visit www.Higher-State.com.
Author: Meredith Clark; HST Writer