MGM Resorts, which is an international company, has suffered an ongoing cyberattack which led to the shutdown of a number of its computer systems, including its website, in response to a cybersecurity issue. MGM Resorts International is in touch with external cybersecurity experts to resolve the issue since it has affected its entire Computer systems. MGM is a larger entity and operates thousands of hotel rooms across Las Vegas and the United States. MGM Resorts shared about the incident and posted that MGM recently identified a cybersecurity issue affecting some of the Company's systems. Promptly after detecting the issue, they quickly began an investigation with assistance from leading external cybersecurity experts. MGM has notified law enforcement and took prompt action to protect systems and data, including putting down certain systems. MGM further stated that the investigation is ongoing.
Basic operations such as the online reservation and booking system MGM have been affected and shut down due to the cybersecurity issue faced by a lot of visitors. Since earlier times, casino security has been the state of the art as they were very vulnerable to attacks by robbers and con artists. This is what we have also seen in a lot of movies. In today's time, con artists and robbers are now strengthened by cyber tactics. This is exactly what was seen in the case of the MGM attack.
MGM Resorts is home to best-in-class amenities and facilities for guests, but with the increase in tourist traction, the vulnerabilities and the scope of cyber attacks have also increased. This is also because of open wifis in the establishments and the transition of casinos to e-casinos, thus causing a major shift towards digital and technology-based intervention for better customer experience and streamlining a lot of operations.
How real is the threat?
As reported by MGM Resorts, the following systems were impacted in the cyber security attack:
- Slots Machines: The slot machines placed in the casino suddenly went offline and displayed an error message for the players. Some players who were already using the slot machines lost their bets and were unable to withdraw their winnings.
- Room Keys: Some of the guests reported that the room keys became unresponsive, and in some cases, the replacement keys were also inactive for some time, causing massive chaos at the reception.
- Booking Status: All the bookings in today's time are made online; this was one of the worst-hit segments of the cyber attacks. Most of the bookings made automatically were put on hold, and the confirmations could be made only from the hotel reception, thus causing massive cancelling of the bookings and both the hotel and customers losing out on money.
- MGM App: The official app of MGM Resorts was completely down, thus causing a situation of confusion and panic among the guests. The users also received notifications to speak to different customer care executives, but some of the numbers were unattentive and seemed to be operated by bad actors.
- Data breach: The main focus of the cyber attack was dedicated to committing a data breach. The attack led to the breach of personal data of most of the users registered on the app or on the system of MGM Resorts.
The cyber attack on the tourism industry is a major and growing concern for the industry and its customers. Seeing the volatility of the data and the regular inflow of personal information this makes the hotel's cyber security system a vulnerable choice for bad actors. The cyber attack was no less than a fire sale, where in all the segments of the services offered were impacted. Similar attacks were reported by MGM in 2019 and 2020, and subsequently, the safety measures were also deployed, but the bad actors have hit the resorts chain owners again, in such cases the most paramount defence is having a safe and regularly updated firewall, upskilling of staff for IT issues and attacks, active reporting and investigation mechanisms for assisting the LEAs. In the times of rising cyberattacks, one needs to be critical of their data management and digital footprints. The sooner we adopt safe, secure and resilient cyber hygiene practices, the safer our future will be.