Cyber-criminals catch on to online hotel booking craze

14 May 2012

Cyber-criminals appear to be capitalising onto the trend of people booking their holidays online. has issued an appeal for people to be aware of fake booking confirmation emails that cyber-criminals are sending out at random.’s manager Paul Durrant said today that such emails, which are sent out randomly, contain attachments that – when opened – download malicious software.

He said the emails are being sent at random, in the hope people who have recently carried out a hotel booking online, will mistake the fraudulent emails as confirmation of a recent booking.

The objective is to infect your computer with a Trojan that can gather logins, passwords and credit card details, he said.

“Booking a holiday and hotel online is perfectly safe and secure,” said Durrant. “The cyber-criminals can’t easily break into that so instead, they are attempting to trick you into believing their spam email is a receipt for a booking you may have made. The spam emails are purely random but with so many booking holidays online at this time of year, the criminals have realised their spam will reach many people who have recently completed a legitimate holiday booking.”

He said the Trojans work by transmitting captured details back to the cyber-criminals who can then transfer money out of a person’s account or make purchases using their credit-card details.

Paul Durrant of

Paul Durrant, manager of

Durrant warned people against opening unexpected emails with attachments without first checking where it has come from, as well as keeping anti-virus software up to date.

“If you are in a hurry and don’t check that the email is actually from the booking service you used and you open the fake confirmation attachment, you now have their Trojan on your computer. We’re warning about this scam because very little can be done to stop it but once the public is aware, they can avoid falling into the trap,” he added.

Recent CSO statistics point to how more than 62pc of Irish internet users book their holiday destinations and accommodation online. is run by the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland, and is part-financed by the European Commission’s Safer Internet Plus Programme.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic