Report: Hackers could target hotel WiFi at G20 summit

Cyber spies are targeting business executives on WiFi networks in luxury hotels, raising fears about the upcoming Group of 20 summit this weekend in Australia.

A Kaspersky Labs report released Monday showed vulnerable hotel networks are attractive targets for cyber spies looking to gather information on tech CEOs from the United States and Asia. 

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Hotel networks are expected to be under threat during this weekend’s G20 summit, when world leaders and central bankers will gather to discuss policy, according to security firm Crowdstrike.

Hackers attacking the hotel WiFi often use fake software updates, delivered over a hotel network, to place malware on computers, Kaspersky said.

The updates, disguised as the hotel’s “welcome package,” seem innocuous — a newer version of the Google Toolbar used in many browsers, or the Adobe Flash software that plays videos on many websites. 

But the “updates” deliver malware that “helps the attackers to identify more significant victims, leading to the selective download of more advanced stealing tools,” the Kaspersky report said.

With the backdoor installed, the digital spies install software to track each keystroke of the executive, hoping to discover passwords guarding sensitive information. Other software scans for previously stored login information.

The strategy has been around for years, but its perpetrators remain elusive. They have no clear pattern and only strike each victim once, immediately erasing their footprints.
The FBI has issued warnings in recent years about overseas hacks of U.S. executives traveling abroad.

With some of the most influential banking executives and world leaders set to travel to Australia later this week, Crowdstrike is anticipating a rash of these attacks.

Executives will be dispersed in a wide range of hotels, many of which lack serious network security, the company said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence, or lack thereof, could significantly affect the volume of cyber attacks this weekend.

Australian officials have suggested the Russian leader might be uninvited because of Russia’s international clashes over the actions of separatists in Ukraine.

“Should Putin be uninvited, it is possible there will be attacks by Russian hackers against those deemed responsible, particularly in the form of non-state-sponsored, nationalist incidents,” Crowdstrike predicted.