Kaspersky Lab discovered that a group of cyber criminals has been systematically hacking company executives who stay at luxury hotels since 2009, according to media reports.
The hackers wait until a particular high-ranking executive has accessed a hotel’s Wi-Fi network by inputting his surname and room number. After that, the criminals trick him into installing updates to popular software such as Adobe Flash, Google Toolbar and Windows Messenger.
“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,” the Russian cyber security firm said.
If the victim falls for this ruse, hackers can infect his computer with trojans, keyloggers and other software that can collect passwords and other sensitive information. Once they have achieved their goals, all traces of the hacking are erased, leaving the victim unaware.
Nine out of ten of the uncovered hacking incidents occurred at high-end hotels in Japan, China, Taiwan, Russia and South Korea. However, incidents have also been reported in countries such as the United States, Italy, UAE, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Executives should use extreme caution when using hotel Wi-Fi networks because these hacking campaigns show no sign of ceasing.
As for the culprits, Kaspersky’s researchers believe that the hackers might have connections to South Korea because one keylogging program that was used contains Korean characters. Moreover, one version of the malware used by the hackers was designed to stop if the infected PC’s codepage was in Korean.