KOCHI: The police have started an investigation into a cyber attack in which the Google Business Account of a five-star hotel in Kochi was hacked and linked to a fake website. A case has been registered at Kochi Cyber police station and attempts are being made to track down the people behind the hacking incident.
The Google Business Account of Hotel Crowne Plaza was hacked by unknown persons between June 2 and June 7. After hacking, the accused replaced the telephone number given in the account. Later, a fake website with pictures of the hotel was created and the business account was linked to it. As per the FIR in the case, the accused misled some of the hotel’s customers and swindled money from them.
“We are collecting information about the telephone number replaced in the business account after it was hacked. The hotel authorities were alerted by the customers who lost money. From the preliminary investigation, people outside Kerala were involved in the incident. The business account has been restored now,” a police official said.
The police complaint was lodged by Praveen Nair, the hotel’s front office manager. The name and identity of the accused are unknown. The case has been registered under IPC Section 420 for cheating, and IT Act Sections 66 for computer-related offences, 66c for identity theft, 66 for cheating by impersonation by using computer resources and 43 for causing damage to the computer and computer system. When contacted, an official of the hotel promised to give a response after speaking with the hotel management.
Kerala has been witnessing an increase in the number of cyber crimes including hacking in the recent years. As many as 936 cyber crime cases, including 11 website hacking cases, were registered in 2021.
Similarly, 183 such cases were registered till March this year. Also, 21 cases of hacking of bank accounts and e-mail IDs were reported in the state last year. The police registered six cases of tampering with computer source documents in the same year.
“It is up to the hotel authority to check whether any security compromise led to the hacking. The account passwords of companies, as well as individuals, should be frequently changed to prevent hacking. Individuals should be careful about clicking links circulated via social media and in the form of SMS. Hackers can plant malware on mobile phones and computer systems using these bogus links,” the officer said.