Cyberattacks on MGM Resorts: A Lesson on Vulnerabilities

October 9, 2023

3 min read

The recent cyberattack on the prominent casino chain, MGM Resorts, has sounded alarm bells for industries around the world. If a giant like MGM, renowned for its meticulous operations, can become a victim, it underlines the reality that no organization is immune. This incident serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the vulnerabilities inherent in modern cyber strategies.

At Novatech, we understand the immense challenges their IT team must be facing during this attack and the pressure their team is under to get their operations back online and secured. Their dilemma is a difficult one, and we have seen government agencies, fortune 100 companies, and many other businesses have to deal with the realities of cybercriminal networks seeking new victims.


How Did it Happen?

Days into the attack, MGM Resorts was grappling with significant system downtimes. Their usual tech-reliant processes – from digital hotel keys to slot machines – faced disruptions. Even their websites faced downtime. Such a scenario underscores the extent to which even sophisticated industries are reliant on technology and, by extension, vulnerable to cyber threats. We are just beginning to learn more about how this breach seems to have taken hold of MGM.

A deep dive into this breach reveals a revelation: the hackers may have entered MGM’s vast network simply by using information that was publicly available and then making a convincing phone call. The group believed to be behind this attack, Scattered Spider, specializes in ‘vishing‘ – essentially phishing via voice calls. They apparently used ransomware made by ALPHV or BlackCat, which is a ransomware-as-a-service business.

With MGM, it appears that they leveraged data from LinkedIn and then proceeded to impersonate an employee over a phone call. This action was enough to gain the necessary credentials and wreak havoc across MGM’s systems.

What is more concerning is that Scattered Spider’s alleged method isn’t new. ‘Vishing‘ is a recognized cyber threat. And, like all social engineering techniques, it targets our primary vulnerability: human nature. Reports suggest that phishing calls are three times more effective than email phishing attacks.

Ransomware attacks have become almost commonplace in our headlines – from banks and hospitals to schools and government institutions. But, vishing is yet to garner the attention it warrants, given its efficacy. In the age of Artificial Intelligence, attackers can harness vast amounts of public information to craft persuasive narratives, making their vishing attempts even more potent. Companies often overlook this risk in their cybersecurity training, potentially leaving a chink in their armor.


So, how can individuals and companies fortify themselves?

  • Stay Informed: Always be cautious about the information you share publicly. Hackers might utilize this data against you or impersonate you to deceive someone else.
  • Verification: Before divulging sensitive information or granting access, always validate the identity of the caller.
  • Diversify Passwords: Ensure you use different passwords for all accounts. This measure ensures that breaching one doesn’t give access to others.
  • Multi-factor Authentication: Implement this additional layer of protection. It can be a game-changer.
  • Post-Breach Action: If you’re a customer of a breached entity, be vigilant. Monitor your bank statements, be skeptical of emails from the affected company, and consider freezing your credit.

For businesses like MGM and even smaller enterprises, it is crucial to evaluate and revise cyber strategies periodically. As attackers evolve, so must defense mechanisms. Here at Novatech, we believe in proactivity over reactivity. While we empathize with MGM Resorts during these trying times, we also see this as a call to all businesses to reevaluate their cybersecurity framework.


Protect Your Business Today

If this incident has made you think about your company’s cyber readiness, we are here to help. Novatech offers a free cyber risk assessment. Let’s ensure your enterprise remains fortified against such threats. Contact us now and take a step towards a safer digital future.

Written By: Editorial Team

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