Luxury hotel chain hit twice by hackers after reneging on ransomware payment

A shot of an island resort in the Maldives owned by Centara Hotels & Resorts

A hacking group believed to have been behind recent attacks against Acer has now reportedly breached a system belonging to a luxury hotel chain in Thailand.

The Desorden group claims to have stolen over 400GB of files and databases containing information belonging to millions of hotel guests, financial data, and corporate information from Centara Hotels & Resorts.

The theft is said to have affected guests who stayed at the hotel chain between 2003 and 2021, including any guests that made advanced bookings to December this year, according to the hackers.

The personal information stolen includes guest names, passport numbers, ID number, email, date of birth and check in and departure dates.

A screenshot of a hacking forum with Desorden's statement

The group said that similar to the Central Restaurants Group, which it hacked earlier this month, the hotel chain is part of Central Group, owned by the Chirathivat family, who are worth $11.6 billion. It also said this latest attack was a retaliation following a decision by the Central Group management team to initially agree to pay the ransom for the first hack, only to then change their minds on payment day.

Operators connected to Desorden have said they were negotiating a ransom payment of $900,000 before Central Group backed out of the deal on Tuesday. It's unclear what the hackers are now demanding from the company following the latest attack.

The group told ZDNet that the attack had "basically brought down their entire backend, which consists of 5 servers".

“After the extensive and thorough forensic evaluation required to establish the veracity and details of the claim, we can confirm that a breach impacting a limited section of our network has occurred, with the general personal data of some of our customers – understood to be mostly their names and booking information, and in minor cases their phone numbers and email addresses, or some other contact information and IDs – being accessed by an unlawful and unauthorised organisation,” said Thirayuth Chirathivat, chief executive officer of Centara Hotels & Resorts.

Chirathivat added that the investigation into the incident remains ongoing and the company will provide more information when it becomes available. It also asked guests to change their passwords and remain aware of suspicious calls or emails requesting personal information.

Desorden has been behind a number of high-profile attacks recently. In October, it claimed to have breached the servers of Acer India, and leaked around 60GB of sensitive data belonging to the company’s customers online. Just three days later, it managed to breach Acer Taiwan systems by obtaining login details belonging to employees at the company’s branch.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.