Cyber security provider Check Point Research has warned of an alarming rise in travel-related scams.
Criminals are setting up fake booking sites to plunder loyalty reward points using “brute force” tools.
Researchers at CPR said: “With airline prices skyrocketing these days, amidst the global inflation, people are always seeking last minute sales, special offers and will usually be tempted to follow any lucrative offer that will decrease the heavy prices we all need to pay towards our next vacation.
“It seems that hackers and cybercriminals leverage this, as always, in their quest to maximise profits and leverage a need that requires a resolution.”
The CPR study swings the spotlight onto scams where crooks set up imitation accounts to well-known travel brands or destinations and offer deals to cut holiday costs.
CPR reports: “One method cybercriminals use is offering stolen credentials of hotel and airline accounts that have accumulated reward or flight points.
“These stolen credentials are offered for free or for sale on hacking Darknet forums.
“Cybercriminals also use a dedicated brute forcing tool to steal accounts from hotel groups with the end goal of accessing accounts with reward points or linked payment cards.”
Another ruse is to lure victims in by creating travel agencies in underground Russian hacking markets offering discounts of up to 45%-50%.
CPR explains: “However, these deals are ordered using stolen accounts from hotels, airlines, and other travel-related websites.
“A brute force tool is a type of software or program used to crack or guess a password or encryption key by attempting every possible combination of characters until the correct one is found.
“Brute force tools are often used by hackers to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, networks, and online accounts.”
The study adds: “Patriarch service is to offer buyers 45-50% reduced prices off an original booking that can be found on legitimate booking outlets around the net.
“These reduced prices are received using stolen accounts of airlines and hotels obtained by the operating cybercriminals who offer these services.
“The ad which appears on the Darknet offering tickets for worldwide destinations, except Russia, and has a minimal order of $325US.”