Hackers of MGM and Caesars up the ante as cybercrime crashes the corporate party

Monday, September 18, 2023 by Snacks
Feels like the ’90s again (Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Feels like the ’90s again (Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

When the house doesn’t win… Last week, casino colossus MGM Resorts suffered a massive hack that critically disrupted its business. Gaming machines and ATMs were offline (customers got handwritten notes for slots), hotel sites struggled, corporate email went kaput, and digital room keys stopped working. Guests said staff were relying on pen and paper. As of Friday, hotel operations were struggling for the fifth day. Another casino chain got dealt a bad hand too: 

  • Caesars Entertainment said hackers stole customers’ SS and driver's-license #s, and it reportedly paid the cybercriminals about $15M not to leak the data.

  • Big blind: The same group who broke into MGM’s systems is believed to have hacked Caesars. Its US- and UK-based members are said to be as young as 19.

A good bet… for bad actors. Hotel-casinos are attractive targets — and not just for the casts of “Ocean’s Eleven” and “21.” They collect valuable customer info, and every second of hack-induced downtime = lost $$. MGM’s share price fell 7% last week, and credit-rating agency Moody’s said the hack highlighted “key risks” that might damage its rating. The industry is working with security experts after an uptick in attacks this summer. It ain’t cheap: last year US companies spent $73B on cybersecurity, and paid at least $456M to ransomware attackers.

  • Ransomware = software that encrypts a victim’s data, making it unusable. Hackers promise a decryption key if the victim pays up.


Data is a treasure (and a liability)… The gaming industry isn’t alone in its high-stakes battle against hackers. The FBI said that last year ransomware hit 14 “critical infrastructure sectors” (like: healthcare, water services). This year ransomware attacks have approached record levels, and cybercrime worldwide is forecast to hit $8T in lost funds. But there’s a bright spot, at least for the in-demand cybersecurity industry: an analyst said it could be a $2T market.

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