60 Minutes Dives Into MGM, Caesars Ransom Attack of Last Year

Written by:
Aaron Goldstein
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A surprisingly young cohort of hackers paralyzed some of Las Vegas’ biggest hotels and casinos last fall, demanding an exorbitant ransom. The FBI and cybersecurity researchers call them “Scattered Spider." Bill Whitaker reported on the story for 60 Minutes Sunday.


The ransomware hackers have also targeted hospitals, pharmaceuticals and tech companies.

Bryan Vorndran, the FBI's top cyber official, called ransomware an "enormous problem," and says no sector, company, or type of organization is off limits to hackers. There are estimates that global losses from ransom payments exceed $1 billion a year.

"Any way you look at the numbers, it's a problem for the global economy, and for the U.S. economy, and for the security of the United States," Vorndran said.

Scattered Spider was cited as the culprit of last year's cyber attack.  It is described by the IT management company Avertium as a "stealthy and persistent threat actor targeting telecom networks".

Once inside a company's systems, the results are crippling as it avoids specialized malware and instead relies on reliable remote management tools to maintain access.

"Part of their success is because they are fluent in Western culture. They know how our society works," said Allison Nixon, chief research officer with the cybersecurity firm Unit 221B. "They know what to say to get someone to do something."

Scattered Spider is just one of many illicit hacking groups, all part of a sprawling collection of online criminals calling themselves "the Community," or "the Com" for short, Nixon said. She describes it as a new, but surprisingly disruptive online subculture.

The number of people involved has exploded since 2018 from only a few hundred to thousands, Nixon said.

"They connect over the internet. Social spaces where people hang out. Gaming servers," Nixon said. "It's almost analogous to, like, maybe the back alley where the bad kids hang out but on the internet."

Watch below for more.

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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