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Phishing scam aims to hoodwink hotel habitants

Counterfeit site ruse proves hard to pin down

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Phishing fraudsters have moved on from banking sites with an attack designed to hoodwink hotel customers, according to a team of security volunteers.

Hotel chains including Hyatt, TraveLodge, Comfort Inn, Ramada, Days Inn, and Wyndham are being targeted in the reported scam. More than 71,000 travelers each month have been redirected to counterfeit sites, volunteer security community FraudTip.com warns. Mainstream net security firms are unable to confirm these figures.

FraudTip.com culled its figures using "audience measurement" technology. It reckons the scam combines "advanced online advertising, bogus hotel locators, third-party reservation systems, and Internet browser crimeware to redirect hotel guest traffic to fake versions of well-known hotel chain websites".

However net security firms reckon the attack is nothing more or less than a straightforward phishing scam, albeit one directed at hotels rather than banks or ecommerce outlets. Some element of search engine trickery to inflate the rank of counterfeit sites may also be involved.

Roger Thompson, chief of research at AVG, said the attack described had all the hallmarks of a phishing assault that didn't involve malware.

"For what its worth, there's no mention of those brands in my records," he told El Reg. "I've also not heard of any malware doing any man in the middle attacks like that either. It's certainly possible, but I would think the machine is already hosed if they've got that sort of malware installed."

Symantec said the attack hadn't hit its radar either.

"I have looked through all of our normal sources and also checked to see if any of the hotels mentioned in this report show up in our databases as recently compromised - they haven't," a spokeswoman told us.

Nobody from FraudTip.com was immediately available to discuss details of the hotel chain attacks. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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