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MARKETREALIST.COM / NEWS Struggles Against Rising Hotel Booking Cyber Frauds; How to Safeguard Yourself

The attackers, employing cunning tactics, utilized compromised hotel accounts to send deceptive emails and in-app messages to customers.
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Pixabay

We live in an era where convenience often comes at the cost of cybersecurity. finds itself at the center of a cybercrime storm. Cybercriminals are targeting unsuspecting customers through a sophisticated scheme that involves hijacking hotel accounts and manipulating users into divulging sensitive payment information.

Cover Image Source: Travel Trade Journal | Travel Trade Journal

A recent investigation by Secureworks, a prominent U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, has brought to light a concerning attack that unfolded in October 2023, per BBC. The attackers, employing cunning tactics, utilized compromised hotel accounts to send deceptive emails and in-app messages to customers. These messages, seemingly originating from hotel owners, requested the confirmation of payment details for upcoming stays. The trap was set in stages, with the initial email carefully crafted to appear innocuous, void of any links or attachments that might trigger security alerts. The second email, however, contained URLs leading to seemingly legitimate documents hosted on services like Google Drive and Dropbox.

When recipients innocently downloaded the ZIP files, they unwittingly unleashed the Vidar infostealer. This malicious software enabled the perpetrators to seize control of the hotel's account, granting them access to the management portal, which harbored details of upcoming bookings. Exploiting this information, the fraudsters proceeded to send misleading emails directly to booked guests.

Pexels | Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
Hacker | Pexels | Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

The aftermath was swift and impactful. A Secureworks researcher recounted, "The day after the malware was executed, a hotel employee observed that multiple messages had been sent to upcoming guests from the hotel’s account. Several hours later, hotel customers started to complain that money had been taken from their accounts." This fraudulent activity, though not a recent phenomenon, has witnessed a surge in intensity over the past year. Cybercriminals are now venturing into the dark web to broaden their pool of victims, as reported by the BBC. users have expressed their frustration at the company's apparent failure to safeguard them against such cyber threats., in response to the escalating issue, has pledged to introduce new safety features. However, they acknowledge that there is "no silver bullet" to eliminate the risk. The company urges users to remain vigilant and emphasizes that no legitimate transaction would ever require customers to provide credit card details through unconventional channels, such as phone calls, emails, or text messages, including WhatsApp.

Despite these assurances, some users voiced their displeasure with's handling of the situation. According to the BBC, disgruntled users expressed their anger at the company's failure to prevent them from falling victim to cybercriminals. One user commented, " users have spoken of their anger at the company’s failure to stop them falling victim to cyber-criminals."

Pexels | Photo by Max Rahubovskiy
Hotel room | Pexels | Photo by Max Rahubovskiy

In light of this growing threat, Secureworks advises organizations in the hospitality and travel industry to implement multi-factor authentication on their accounts. Educating employees about social engineering campaigns and instilling a habit of double-checking URLs before opening them are essential measures to thwart potential attacks.

For individual customers, caution is the watchword. Secureworks recommends approaching any emails or app messages requesting payment details with skepticism, even if they seemingly originate from legitimate accounts. Vigilance is crucial, and customers are advised to verify any payment requests that deviate from the details listed on their confirmation.

As grapples with the fallout from this intricate cyber scam, the incident serves as a stark reminder of the ever-evolving tactics employed by cybercriminals. In an era where personal information is a valuable commodity, users must remain vigilant, and companies must continuously bolster their cybersecurity measures to stay one step ahead of those seeking to exploit the trust of unsuspecting customers.