FBI Highlights Risks of Cyber Attacks on Tribal Casinos

The FBI has everyone on high alert as the casino industry has been buffeted by repeat ransomware attacks for five years now. The past several years have exposed weaknesses in the way casinos protect their customers’ data or rather, a renewed effort on behalf of nefarious parties who have been actively assaulting businesses on US soil.

The FBI’s Cyber Division spoke on the matter last week, outlining a few instances in which tribal-owned casinos had been impacted by such attacks, taking down their systems. Tribal entities have been plagued by similar attacks with their operations attracting hackers since at least 2016 at the scale witnessed today.

Law Enformcenet on High Alert

According to federal authorities, casinos have lost millions worth of dollars in recent months alone, and the issue seems to be intensifying as hackers get bolder. Operators are scrambling to beef up their security, often involving the FBI as well. Spending more on security makes sense as once tribal casinos get hit, they are forced to wind down their entire operation, including their accommodation, food and beverage businesses, and gaming floors.

The resulting losses grow at a rate of seven figures daily, and guests’ data is another thing to worry about. The onus is not entirely on tribal casinos failing to meet some security benchmark, however.

The FBI estimates that law enforcement resources and knowledge is limited, something that has been changing rapidly since the spate of attacks launched on US companies by REvil, a hacker group that caught the attention of US President Joe Biden who spoke with homologs in China and Russia to help fight the hackers.

Tribal governments have also been impacted by hacking attacks. Hospitals as well as the 911 policy system have been shut down repeatedly by a series of attacks over the last months. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians was taken down by a ransomware attack in December 2019.

Lawmakers have been quick to act, naturally. In the Cherokee attack, a casino tribal employee was arrested and charged following an investigation by the Cherokee Indian Police Department aided by the FBI’s Cyber Security Response Team and several other departments.

Attacks Originate from Abroad

Ransomware attacks have not subsided though, neither in intensity nor frequency, leaving businesses exposed. Earlier this year, we reported that groups with alleged ties to the Chinese government had been targeting gambling platforms. However, those attacks had to do with illegal gambling platforms rather than attacks on legitimate operators in the US.

Last year, casino equipment supplier Gaming Partners International was targeted by the infamous REvil hacking outfit. Cyber security continues to be a hot topic for tribal casinos and the gaming industry as a whole.

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