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InterContinental Hotels Group confirms cyber attack, experts suggest ransomware

Customers had been reporting issues with reservations for days and security experts have sparked discussions of a more serious incident

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has confirmed that it has sustained a cyber attack which experts are suggesting could be ransomware in nature.

IHG owns hotel brands such as Holiday Inn, Holiday Express, Regent, Crowne Plaza, Kimpton, and Six Senses. It confirmed the attack with a filing to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on Tuesday.

Part of the disclosure to the LSE mentioned how “IHG is working to fully restore all systems as soon as possible” - wording often used when a cyber security incident involves ransomware.

Cyber security experts have suggested the incident could be ransomware too, adding to the growing speculation which has not yet been confirmed by IHG.

Other researchers pointed out that the LockBit ransomware operation also claimed an attack on an Istanbul-based branch of IHG-owned Holiday Inn last month.

IHG said in the filing that its booking channels and “other applications” have been “significantly” disrupted since Monday. 

IHG customers have been complaining on social media about reservation issues and users appearing to be IHG employees claim their shifts “have been hell all day”.

“IHG has implemented its response plans, is notifying relevant regulatory authorities and is working closely with its technology suppliers. External specialists have also been engaged to investigate the incident,” the company said in its filing.

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“IHG is working to fully restore all systems as soon as possible and to assess the nature, extent and impact of the incident. We will be supporting hotel owners and operators as part of our response to the ongoing service disruption. IHG's hotels are still able to operate and take reservations directly.

“A further update will be provided as and when appropriate.”

In 2016, IHG fell victim to several cyber attacks that caused widespread disruption. During two instances in the space of just a few months, IHG customers’ payment details were put at risk.

One instance involved 20 of the company’s hotels being hit with malware targeting its point-of-sale systems, potentially exposing payment details to hackers.

A month later, it was also targeted by a three-month attack on its systems during which time malware was used to access customers’ stored payment details. 

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