Along Came A Spider: Gambling Operators On Red Alert Following Vegas Ransomware Attacks

Welcome to the wonderful world of weekend phishing.

The world’s top gambling operators are on red alert for the traditional betting surge this weekend following a series of cyber ransomware attacks on leading casinos in Las Vegas that have–allegedly–seen top operators–named as Caesars and MGM–pay out millions of dollars in ransomware.

The story–in great part unsubstantiated–has been breaking on social media, principally Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter.

It’s alleged that first Caesars Entertainment, followed by MGM Resorts, have been held digital hostage by an unholy alliance of two cyber criminal gangs, one called ALPHV/BlackCat, the other “Scattered Spider”.

This week–after MGM gambling operations at their Bellagio, Aria, Cosmopolitan and Excalibur casinos on the Vegas Strip were thrown into chaos following a pre-emptive digital security shut-down–it emerged that Caesars Entertainment, owners of Caesars Palace, had allegedly paid-off the criminal digital duopoly US$30 million in ransomware (£24.13m).

The story has gained traction and credence in a wide range of financial and gambling industry media.

Gone Phishing

But both MGM and Caesars, not surprisingly, have declined to speak to the press.

Vegas Stripped: Caesars, MGM hit by Cyberattack
What’s indubitable, though, is that the efforts to combat the hackers spread panic through the world capital of gambling.

According to cyber security experts, “Scattered Spider” uses fraudulent phone calls to employees and help desks to “phish” for login credentials.

Attested financial media group Bloomberg reported that the Spider attacks on the Vegas behemoths started on August 27.

Unusually for a ransomware gang, Scattered Spider are not based in Russia but probably operate in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, say reliable sources.

Both the FBI and the state regulatory Nevada Gaming Control Board confirmed that they are investigating the digital security breaches.

The MGM attack forced the company to shut down a major part of its network operating systems on Monday, impacting slot machines, electronic room keys at their hotels and payment protocols.

“Absolute chaos,” posted one visitor to the Vegas Strip on social media.

Welcome to the Digital Downside.

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