by Giuseppe Gagliano
According to three Dutch investigative journalists, a hacker was able to break into an insecure server belonging to Booking.com.
A hacker who targeted a major Dutch-based reservations website has ties to intelligence agencies in the United States, according to a news investigation. The claim was made Wednesday by three Dutch investigative journalists, Merry Rengers, Stijn Bronzwaer and Joris Kooiman, in a lengthy report published in NRC Handelsblad, claiming the attack occurred in 2016.
Its target was Booking.com, a popular flight and hotel booking website, jointly owned by Dutch and American venture capital firms. The authors argue that Booking.com's interest in security services is not "a surprise". The website data includes valuable information on "who stays where and when, where diplomats are, who travels to suspicious countries or regions, where top executives book an outing with their secretary, all of which is valuable information for intelligence services." world". According to the report, the hacker was able to break into an insecure server belonging to Booking.com and gain access to customer accounts by stealing their personal identification numbers or PINs. As a result, the hacker stole "hotel and flight booking details" from thousands of Booking.com customers in the Middle East. The report said targeted clients included foreign diplomats based in the Middle East, government officials and other "people of interest" to US intelligence. " After detecting the breach, Booking.com reportedly conducted an internal investigation, which verified that the hacker - nicknamed "Andrew" - had "connections with US intelligence agencies," according to the report. The company then requested the assistance of the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD). At the same time, however, Booking.com consulted with a British law firm, which advised it not to be forced to go public with news of the hacker attack. He therefore chose not to publicize the incident, according to the NRC article.