Menominee Casino Resort in Wisconsin Shuttered by ‘Beyond Significant’ Cyberattack

Posted on: June 15, 2021, 04:22h. 

Last updated on: June 15, 2021, 05:38h.

The Menominee Casino Resort in Wisconsin remained closed at the time of publication, having confirmed it was the victim of a devastating cyberattack Friday.

Managers at the Menominee Casino Resort say they don’t believe hackers have breached sensitive customer data, although the situation appears to be fluid. (Image: NBC26)

General manager Daniel Hanson said on the casino’s Facebook page that Menominee officials were working with cybersecurity and forensic experts from the FBI to investigate and assess the impact.

He described an “attempted external attack on our computer systems,” but added he did not believe any secure information has been compromised.

If it is determined that the personal information of our guests or team members was exposed, we will notify those affected individuals in writing,” Hanson said.

Meanwhile, Tribal Legislature Chairman Gunnar Peters told NBC 26 that the breach was “beyond significant, so we had to close.”

Casino officials have not said whether the attack was accompanied by a ransom demand.  Hanson told The Post- Crescent he believed hackers were trying to shut down the casino, and that the financial hit will be “substantial.”

Ransomware Epidemic

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers told Yahoo! Finance on Monday that ransomware attacks were on the rise. He said American companies could expect 65,000 to 100,000 attacks in 2021 alone, each one costing an average of $170,000 to resolve.

This comes amid several high-profile attacks that have grabbed the headlines in the past month. Utmost of these, in May, the systems of US oil network Colonial Pipeline were breached by hackers who gained access using a compromised password.

The company paid $4.4 million to the hackers, believed to be operating from Russia, to regain control of its systems.

The gambling industry has long been a target for ransomware hackers, particularly the online sector. That’s because of the relative ease of knocking a website offline with a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack during peak traffic. For example, this could be during a major sports event for a betting site, or a flagship tournament series for an online poker site.

Land-based casinos, on the other hand, are prime targets for hackers on the hunt for valuable data to steal. That’s because of the large amount of sensitive financial information the casinos hold on their customers.

Tribal casinos have increasingly found themselves targeted. In October of last year, three were shut down by cyberattacks in a matter of days, two in Idaho and one in California.

California’s Cache Creek Casino Resort was forced closed for three full weeks.

When Iran Knocked LVS Offline

But the biggest known cyberattack against a land-based casino occurred not for reasons of theft or extortion, but for political payback.

It was carried out in 2014 against Las Vegas Sands Corp. by a group believed to be working for the Iranian government, likely a hacking collective named “Ashiyane.”

It’s believed to have been a personal attack on the company’s then-Chairman and CEO, the late Sheldon Adelson.

The Republican megadonor was a vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Months earlier, Adelson opined that the US should detonate a nuclear bomb in the Iranian desert.

On February 10, 2014, LVS was plunged into chaos when computers flatlined, servers shut down, and hard drives were wiped clean, as malware ripped through the company’s networks. The attack lasted for around 48 hours, causing an estimated $40 million-worth of damage.