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Hackers' delight: Hotel cyber-cafe, er, business centers, apparently – US Secret Service

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The US Secret Service has quietly warned hotels that malware slingers are increasingly targeting PCs in hotel business centers to harvest sensitive information.

In a non-public advisory, obtained by investigative journalist Brian Krebs, law enforcement officials have arrested members of a criminal gang that is accused of installing data-swiping software in computers on hotel hot desks in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

"The suspects used stolen credit cards to register as guests of the hotels; the actors would then access publicly available computers in the hotel business center, log into their Gmail accounts and execute malicious key logging software," the advisory states.

"The keylogger malware captured the keys struck by other hotel guests that used the business center computers, subsequently sending the information via email to the malicious actors' email accounts. The suspects were able to obtain large amounts of information including other guests personally identifiable information (PII), log in credentials to bank, retirement and personal webmail accounts, as well as other sensitive data flowing through the business center's computers."

The crims reportedly didn’t bother to bring their malware with them on a USB stick or CD. Instead they allegedly stored the malware in the cloud, and simply downloaded it onto the hotel's computers.

"It’s easy to imagine how such a boobytrapped computer might outwit a holiday maker, or could even be used in targeted attacks if a particular business conference was being held at the hotel," said security blogger Graham Cluley.

"And even though some business centre computers may have taken the safeguard of not allowing anyone to log in with Administrator rights, that’s no guarantee that a Windows PC cannot be infected by malware."

The US Secret Service was not available for comment as The Register went to press. ®

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