Sony Pictures Entertainment hack that started at the end of the last month and so far has caused a severe damage to its reputation as well as resources, from internal system shutdown to upcoming movies and scripts leak. Now, a similar cyber attack against Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp has been revealed that occurred on February 2014.
The cyber attack occurred on this year’s February but the details of damages to the casino was not publicized until Bloomberg Businessweek exposed it in a story on Thursday. Hackers crippled thousands of servers and computers across the network of the giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. by wiping them with highly destructive malware.
The hack attack was believed to be in response to the statement given by the chief executive officer and largest shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., Sheldon Adelson. On October 2013, the billionaire made a statement at the Manhattan campus of Yeshiva University that Iran should be bombed to get the country to abandon its own nuclear program.
"What I would do," he said during the panel, rather than negotiating, "would be to say, ‘Do you see that desert over there? I want to show you something.’ You pick up your cell phone and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say ‘Ok let it go.’…Then you say, ‘See? The next one is in the middle of Tehran."
This statement given by Adelson circulated on all over the Internet and reached Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameeni, who responded after two weeks later and said that the American government should "slap these prating people in the mouth and crush their mouths."
Two months later, the attackers attacked the Las Vegas Sands’ IT network to destroy the corporation and continues their attacks last January on the company’s virtual private network gateway at its slots casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The attack went worse in February, when hackers breached server for the casino’s website and used an open tool to fetch usernames and passwords. Finally, they found the credentials of a senior systems engineer who had visited the Bethlehem site from Las Vegas, which gave them keys to the corporate castle. The attackers wiped out data on computers and servers and erased hard drives, as malware ripped through the company’s networks.
"Those credentials got the hackers into the gaming company’s servers in Las Vegas," Bloomberg reported. "As they rifled through the master network, the attackers readied a malware bomb. Typing from a Sony (SNE) VAIO computer, they compiled a small piece of code, only about 150 lines long, in the Visual Basic programming language."
Hackers posted personal information about Sands Bethlehem employees, stolen email addresses and social security numbers. They also left personal messages for Adelson, "Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a Crime, signed, the Anti WMD Team," said one. "Damn A, Don’t let your tongue cut your throat," warned another.
The virus was written in a Visual basic language, which is a common desktop programming language. Visual basic malwares were used in past because of a limitation that it runs on Windows system.
A spokesperson for cybersecurity firm Dell SecureWorks, who was brought to clean up the after-damage caused to the company and determine its actual cause, denied to comment on the issue due to the policy made by the company not to discuss work done for a customer.
Also, the company spokesman Ron Reese declined to comment on the details provided in the report published by Bloomberg, saying, "I'm not going to confirm anything that was speculated or written in the Bloomberg story."