Hackers Are Using “Internet of Things” to Steal: A Casino’s High-Roller Database Got Stolen

You will be surprised to know what was used to steal this extremely-valuable high-rollers’ database of the casino. They used the thermostat that was used to check the temperature of the water of the fish tank. Surprisingly, this thermostat wasn’t anywhere near the casino’s central system or even in the machine room. It was in the casino lobby.


Internet of Things: What Is That?

These days Hackers are targeting “internet of things” or IoT devices more and more to infiltrate into the corporate world. IoT includes almost everything from the air-conditioning, refrigeration and CCTV cameras.

“Internet of Things” are referred to those devices that are linked to the internet for live streaming of data for monitoring purposes. This includes a range of household applications to gadgets used in manufacturing units and energy plants and anything in between.

Nicole Eagan, the Chief Executing Officer of the cyber-security company Darkforce, notified the WSJ CEO Council in London that there is a steady increase of internet of things devices around us, everything from the HVAC, heating systems, thermostats to kindle. People are bringing their Kindle and Alexa devices into their office premises. There are simply so many of them around – this broadens the attacking window for the hackers. The worst part is that our traditional security systems are incapable to cover most of them.

The Real Crime Story

Nicole shared an unforgettable story of a case her company worked on where a group of extremely smart hackers creeps into an undisclosed casino’s network through a smart-thermometer that was in the aquarium in the lobby. Breaching into the casino’s network was the most difficult part, and they used the thermostat to do it. Rest is simple, they searched for the high-rollers’ record, extracted it from the network, pulled it out through the thermostat again and upload into the cloud. That’s how hackers are using “internet of things” devices to pull off cyber-crimes.  

Robert Hannigan, who headed the British Government’s digital-scouting bureau “Government Communications Headquarter” (2014-17) was also a part of the panel along with Eagen. Even he admitted that the way hackers are aiming the internet-of-things appliances is posing a mounting difficulty for all the companies regardless which industry it is. Therefore, online casinos are at the forefront of this cyber threat. Luckily, they maintain high-level security and are being monitored religiously by eminent internet-security companies.

Hannigan further mentioned that with the thousands of IoT gadgets thrust into the world of the internet in the subsequent few years, the situation is going to be even more problematic. He also told, “I saw a bank that had been hacked through its CCTV cameras because these devices are bought purely on cost”.

How to Deal With It?

One cannot stop the inventions of such IoT gadgets – they are so amazing. They make our life easier, keep us entertained and informed and even provide a certain level of security. Yet, it needs to maintain some safety standards. Hannigan asked for a mandatory guideline or parameter that will enforce to maintain minimal safety values.

It is very important that we recognize and accept IoT devices as the new attack-prone area. We definitely need a directive for least amount security checks and standard-compliance of these products – to save ourselves from getting hacked. It’s essential for us to do seek it because the marketplace isn’t taking any step to the right itself. After all, these devices whether it’s the CCTV camera in the bank or the thermostat of the casino aquarium are doing the job (for which they were primarily designed).

Technology is just enhancing our lifestyle but also making us vulnerable to internet thefts and other cyber-crimes. We cannot drive away technology from our lives but at least insist on maintaining some security standards.


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