Hackers Target Las Vegas Sands Corp
Following the cyber attack on Sony Pictures last month, it has come to light that a similar attack was instituted against the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the worlds biggest casino company, by Iranian “Hacktivists” after its Chief Executive and majority shareholder, Sheldon Adelson, made comments about Iran in a debate at the Yeshiva University in New York.
The comments were made during a panel at Yeshiva University where Sheldon Adelson made suggestions that the US should use nuclear weapons on Iran in order to impose its demands from a position of strength.
When asked by moderator, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, if America should negotiate with Iran on the matter of its Uranium enrichment program, Adelson replied with, “what are we going to negotiate about?”
Adelson then went on to propose the following scenario: what if a US official had to call an Iranian official and say “watch this”, before dropping a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Iranian desert.
“Then you say, SEE! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes,” Adelson finished. The entire episode was filmed on a mobile phone and has been uploaded to YouTube.
In retaliation for the comments made by the billionaire casino mogul, hackers began probing the Las Vegas Sands’ network, eventually launching a brute force password attack on the corporations virtual private network gateway at one of the slots casinos located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Once they had cracked the passwords in Bethlehem, they searched until they found the opening they were looking for, the credentials of a senior IT technician that had worked on both the Bethlehem systems (a box system) and those of the larger Las Vegas Sands Corp, with it they were able to launch their attack on the whole Sands network.
Bloomberg’s Ben Elgin and Michael Riley who broke the story, reported: “As they rifled though the master network, the attackers readied a malware bomb. Typing from a Sony VAIO computer, they compiled a small piece of code, only about 150 lines long, in the Visual Basic programming language.”
The malware written by the attackers, who Dell SecureWorks say are probably “hacktivists from Iran but possibly not attached to the government, worked the same way as a number of other attacks on big corporations such as Sony and Saudi Aramco, where it overwrote different sections of the hard drives of any affected machines and then rebooted the machines to complete the job.
The attack, which happened on February 19th but was kept under wraps by the Sands Corp, caused damages which have been estimated to be as high as $40 million to the multi-billion dollar corporation. The hackers also attacked the company’s websites with a message being left on Sands.com with the warning: “Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a crime.” They also left a personal message for Adelson himself, stating: “Damn A, Don’t let you tongue cut your throat.”
As to why the Sand Corp chose to keep the entire affair under wraps is yet to be made clear, especially considering the attack was not for financial gain but instead to showcase intentions, as Adelson said himself, “from a position of power.”
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