HappyHotel, a search engine for so-called “love hotels” recently suffered from a security breach toward the end of 2019, reported ZDNet. Research shows that the stolen data is yet to be leaked by the attackers.
According to Almex, the parent company of HappyHotel, its security system alerted them of unauthorized access to its servers. The warning occurred on December 22. Almex said that the attackers have managed to get hold of personal data related to customers of the love hotel.
The sex hotel is known for being established and operated to give guests a private space for sexual activities. Customers usually fall under the category of married couples and individuals cheating on their spouses.
ZDNet noted that such hotels exist all over the world but are more prominent in East Asia, particularly in Japan. The Silicon Republic said that Japan has the highest number of sex hotels. It has over 37,000 such establishments.
Given the nature of the hotel, data stolen by hackers are potentially sensitive. Almex revealed that the attackers could have obtained info such as real names, gender, contact numbers, address, birth dates, and even payment info.
ZDNet remarked that “the website’s data is incredibly sensitive” and that it is “reminiscent of the Ashley Madison hack” back in 2015. The data from HappyHotel is likely to hold info about people who are having extramarital affairs, said the report.
In case of leaks, customers involved can face extortion and blackmail attempts like Ashley Madison hack victims. The attempts lasted for years leading to the suicide of some of the victims.
In response to the breach, Almex immediate suspended its website and has informed visitors about the incident. The site has been inaccessible since December 25.
Moreover, the company has since issued an apology. Almex officials said through a message on their website, “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and anxiety that may have caused our customers and other concerned parties.”
Meanwhile, ZDNet worked with a Japanese cybersecurity researcher and a threat intel company. According to the study, the compromised info has not yet appeared in any leaks.
Aside from HappyHotel, the parent firm also manages Loveinn Japan, another sex hotel. The HappyHotel breach has led to the second website being taken down as well. Almex did not issue a notice on Loveinn. However, it is unclear if the site suffered from an attack or if user data are safe.