There has been a rash of high-profile hacking attacks recently in the U.S. The latest incident involves the Las Vegas Sands Corp. This particular hacker attack is different from ones experienced by department stores Target and Neiman Marcus over the recent holiday season. The Sands attack directly targeted CEO Sheldon Adelson.
Outspoken billionaire, Adelson, is no stranger to controversy. In the past, he has dipped his toes into American politics. Adelson is also a strong supporter of Israel. His latest statements in support of that country may have been what spurred hackers to take over his company’s servers. The billionaire recently stated that he was in favor of dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran. It is no stretch to see how this type of inflammatory rhetoric could inspire someone with opposite views to retaliate.
Hackers were able to access the Sands corporate website, in addition to casino properties in Pennsylvania, China and Singapore. What is so disturbing about this cyber attack is that hackers got a hold of private employee information. Employee names, administrative passwords and company documents were found in a video posted on Youtube.
The FBI and Secret Service are jointly investigating the incident. At this time, it is not known if hackers also gained access to private customer information. Gaining access for financial gain may not be the intended goal of these hackers. The hackers consider themselves to be a part of the “Anti WMD Team.”
The hacking team left another message aimed directly at Adelson, “Damn A, don’t let your tongue cut your throat. Encouraging the use of weapons of mass destruction, under any conditions, is a crime.”
This reference to WMD provides insight into a possible political activist link. Adelson is a Republican that generously donates to Republican causes. Supporting the wars in the Middle East was one of those causes that some activist groups vehemently oppose.
For now, the Sands is trying to reassure their employees that they will get some identification protection. Sands Bethlehem is providing free credit and identity theft monitoring for all affected employees. This may be small comfort to people who have nothing to do with Adelson’s controversial views.
The company first got wind that something major was wrong when thousands of email accounts suddenly shut down. A day later, all casino websites were attacked. The Bethlehem, PA website was used to display hacked information.
The email system and all the Sands websites are now fully restored. As the investigation into the hacking continues, it is not known if Adelson intends to be more careful about what he says in public. Protecting his $66 billion casino empire may be less important to him than exercising his freedom of speech. Only time will tell if he got the message the hackers were trying to send him.
One thing that this recent attack makes clear is that it doesn’t matter if a company is worth billions; hackers are able to shut down operations of even the largest companies. Devastating hacking attacks can happen over unpopular views.