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Curious case: Hotel chain turns thousands of striking Windows computers into Chromebooks; with Google’s help

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Google’s operating system ChromeOS not only enjoys increasing popularity in the private sector, but also in the business environment – albeit at a very low level. A current and slightly strange case from Finland shows that the decision to go with Chrome OS is not that difficult: As a result of a ransomware attack, a company simply turned all Windows computers into Chromebooks – with Google’s help.

Unfortunately, ransomware attacks are not a new development, but they seem to have increased in popularity recently and are every IT department’s (and of course the rest of the company’s) nightmare. Put simply, this is an attack in which all or a large number of important files are encrypted and only decrypted again by paying a ransom. The term “blackmail trojan” has become established in the media. Windows users are particularly affected because of the spread alone, but this does not necessarily have anything to do with the insecurity of the operating system. Nevertheless, a Finnish hotel chain with more than 200 houses has now used such an attack as an opportunity to switch the entire end device infrastructure from Windows to Chrome OS practically overnight. In December there was a ransomware attack that brought the company to its knees in terms of IT and the internal network had to be shut down. A catastrophe, especially in the automated hotel sector with digital room cards. Internally, a project has been running for a long time that prepared the switch from Windows to Chrome OS, but only on a small scale. The Windows devices that were no longer working and were difficult to restore were then simply switched to Chrome OS, which not only solved the problem but also largely protected them from future attacks. Because Chrome OS is still considered a fortress and the most secure operating system, also because of its spread. The architecture is less vulnerable than Windows, but no platform can offer absolute security. Especially not when the biggest problem is in front of the screen (not meant to be disrespectful, IT people will know what I mean).

Google supports the migration
The internal project naturally helped with the changeover, but Google was also apparently cooperative: The hotel chain used the services of CloudReady, which has belonged to Google since December 2020 and offers the switch to Chrome OS. The company was prioritized so that the changeover could happen more or less spontaneously. Surely you will also have offered support, well aware of the upcoming headlines 😉

Then they could get a lot up and running again by changing operating system – and it could be done from the head office, instead of someone having to travel around to each hotel to clean each unit.

There are reports of 3500 laptops, Lenovo ThinkPads, now being converted to Chromebooks. Doesn’t sound like much and won’t even increase market share in the noticeable area in Finland, but it could send out a signal. There will probably be more than 3,500 laptops in the company with over 200 hotels, but these may have already been converted or could not be migrated for other reasons. With 250 devices, the decision was made to leave them with Windows.

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