Caesars Hack Affected Rewards Program; 2 California Harrah’s Casinos Safe

Written By Dan Holmes on September 14, 2023 - Last Updated on September 15, 2023
Harrah's casinos in California safe after Caesars hack.

Only weeks ago, Caesars Entertainment, Inc. paid millions to a hacker organization that unleashed ransomware on the company, threatening two Harrah’s casinos in California.

The ransomware attack, allegedly orchestrated by a hacker group called “Scattered Spider,” threatened Caesars properties across the US including casinos in California, according to reporting by Reuters. That same group is allegedly conducting a similar cybersecurity threat on MGM Resorts properties in six states.

Harrah’s Southern California Resort & Casino in Valley Center and Harrah’s Northern California casino in Ione were both threatened as part of a malicious ransomware attack in July.

Caesars reportedly paid tens of millions of dollars to secure its data and systems in numerous resorts and casinos in other states as well. The company has said only its Caesars Rewards program was affected, with information such as social security numbers being compromised. As of Thursday, its casino and online betting operations have remained unaltered.

One casino in CA is affected by the hack of MGM

News of the action by Caesars comes as rival MGM Resorts is also reportedly being attacked by the same hacker group in many states. Casinos in Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Ohio have experienced problems since at least Monday due to a ransomware attack.

Thunder Valley Casino Resort in the Northern California community of Lincoln is currently limited in its services because of the attack. MGM released a short statement earlier this week.

“MGM Resorts recently identified a cybersecurity issue affecting some of the company’s systems. Promptly after detecting the issue, we quickly began an investigation with assistance from leading external cybersecurity experts. We also notified law enforcement and took prompt action to protect our systems and data, including shutting down certain systems. Our investigation is ongoing, and we are working diligently to determine the nature and scope of the matter.”

MGM Resorts has not acknowledged that the current cybersecurity threat is due to a ransomware attack similar to the one that was attached to Caesars.

Attacks underscore vulnerability of security systems

A ransomware attack is a cyberassault on a network or computer system where a criminal organization or individual holds files ransom in return for a large financial payment. Once the ransom is paid, a decryption key is supplied to allow the target to regain control of its files or computer networks.

The hacker group Scattered Spider is also known as Roasted 0ktapus and UNC3944. Security organizations believe its members are from both the US and United Kingdom. Some are as young as 19 years old.

Scattered Spider has performed illegal cyberattacks on Microsoft and more than 60 organizations in the country, according to the FBI.

The attack on Caesars and MGM underscores the possibility of data breaches and threats to sensitive customer and company information in the casino industry. Casinos typically deal with tens of millions of dollars each month, often via digital means like a credit card, debit card or bank transfer.

A security threat to such data could jeopardize private information of hundreds of millions of people and threaten the systems that casinos rely on to be in business.

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a contributor for PlayCA with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio, Massachusetts and Maryland. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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