AN ESPIONAGE CAMPAIGN dubbed Darkhotel has been targeting travelling executives via hotel WiFi for the past four years, Kaspersky has warned, and is still active today.
According to the security firm, Darkhotel infects hotel networks with spying software which in turn infects the computers of targeted executives as soon as they connect to the hotel WiFi network.
The executives are tricked into installing the information-stealing malware by disguising it as an update for legitimate software such as Adobe Flash, Google Toolbar or Windows Messenger.
The malware then searches the computer for sensitive corporate data, cached passwords and log-in credentials.
Kaspersky notes that, once installed, Darkhotel can be used to download more advanced tools capable of stealing data, including all keystrokes.
Kurt Baumgartner, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said: "For the past few years, Darkhotel has performed a number of successful attacks against high-profile individuals, employing methods and techniques that go well beyond typical cyber criminal behaviour.
"This threat has operational competence, mathematical and crypto-analytical offensive capabilities, and other resources that are sufficient to abuse trusted commercial networks and target specific victim categories with strategic precision."
According to Kaspersky, top executives from the US and Asia are most likely to be targeted by the Darkhotel malware, in particular those in the Asia-Pacific region.
Among the victims identified by Kaspersky were executives from the private equity, pharmaceutical and electronics manufacturing industries, and figures from law enforcement, military services and non-government organisations.
Kaspersky warned that the Darkhotel malware is still active, and has advised business travellers to use a VPN, make sure that any security solution offers proactive defence against new threats, and treat software updates as suspicious.
The security firm said it is working with hotel chains to mitigate the threat. µ
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