130 Million Hotel Guests’ Data Available on Darknet for 8 Bitcoin
A data dump consisting of personal data and financial information of over 130 million hotel guests of the Chinese hotel giant Huazhu Hotels Group Ltd. is reportedly up for sale for 8 bitcoin on an underground Chinese forum. Whether the deal’s had any takers yet is currently unknown, though the possibility remains.
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A Huge Dataset Lands on Darknet
According to a report on Bleeping Computer, a hacker is selling the personal information of 130 million guests who, at some point, have stayed at any of 1,000s of hotels operated by popular Chinese hospitality management company Huazhu Group Ltd. The data bundle, up for sale for 8 bitcoin on a dark web forum, is accordingly pegged at more than $55,000 USD per the genesis cryptocurrency’s current price.
The scope of the compromised data is rather ugly.
The report said the information in question consisted of more than 141 GB of associated booking metadata, as well as check-in forms far into the millions.
Huazhu Group, also known as China Lodging Group Limited, is one of China’s biggest hotel chains and the world’s ninth-biggest franchise, bearing over 5,000 properties. Its brands include domestic standouts like CitiGo, Elan, Haiyou, and Grand Mercure.
Accidental or Intentional?
As far the cause of the data breach, nothing definitive has been identified yet, though Chinese cybersecurity company Zibao has publicly commented that a Huazhu employee seemingly uploaded the leaked dataset on the company’s GitHub account inadvertently, as reported on New Beijing News.
Still, a formal investigation is ongoing.
Bitcoin Still a Redoubt in Darker Markets
While recent reports suggest bitcoin’s popularity among darknet vendors has recently declined, the cryptocurrency for now still seems to be the crypto to beat when it comes to underground payment options.
That dynamic is a double-edged sword, in that, by foregoing strictly privacy-centric cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash, these criminals are having their pseudo-anonymity busted easier as of late.
The recent year-long nationwide sting operation by the U.S. Department of Justice against several darknet narcotics vendors brought home the fact that BTC is still a moneta franca on the dark web.
In what should put such cyber crooks on further notice, researchers at Princeton University have recently concluded that web trackers and cookies can reveal the identity of bitcoin transactors. Using bitcoin has its perks for web criminals, but total privacy is not currently one of them.
Is bitcoin going to remain the king currency on the darknet? Share your views in the comments section.
Images via Pixabay