CheapAir, the online travel agency specialising in finding cheap air fares and allowing users to pay in cryptocurrencies has fallen victim of a Bitcoin ransom attack, demanding that the service pay up around $10,000.00 worth of Bitcoin to the hackers. Failure to do so threatened to roll out a smear campaign against the service designed to bring the name of CheapAir into repute.
CheapAir are one of the first websites of it’s kind to accept cryptocurrencies in order to book flights and hotels, in fact, they approved crypto payments as early as 2013 after the company noticed a growing demand for cryptocurrency.
As CheapAir have thus far failed to pay the ransom, the website and the brand has been subject to a number of attacks, according to Coindoo:
“The CheapAir team said the hackers claimed they would have sent thousands of negative items on our social media accounts, posted bad reviews on websites such as Trustpilot, as well as ruining SEO rankings by spamming our blog backlinks with negative and profane anchor text. The post was meant to give customers a full picture of what’s going on, should they come across any dubious social media activity on CheapAir’s platforms.”
The message here is that any bad press you may have seen on CheapAir is mostly down to this specific cyber attack. Instead of paying the attackers, CheapAir are instead focusing their efforts on damage control in ensuring their customers aren’t impacted by the actions of the attackers.
The question we want to ask is this – by accepting cryptocurrency and becoming popular with crypto enthusiasts, have CheapAir opened themselves up to this sort of attack?
It’s interesting to consider, but would hackers be trying to extort a ransom from a standard travel agent that had never had dealings with cryptocurrencies previously?
Obviously, accepting cryptocurrency payments is great, its good for the community and does great things for cryptocurrency adoption, however companies like this need to have plans in place to protect themselves against these sorts of crimes and attacks. By being involved in the crypto community, companies are inadvertently putting themselves at a greater risk, simply because they can be seeing as drawing attention to themselves. It’s a sorry way to see it, but sadly it’s something that cyber criminals will only take advantage of.