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Howard Stutz

Las Vegas Sands: Websites still down, but core systems not affected

13 February 2014

LAS VEGAS -- Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Wednesday the company’s core operating systems were not affected by a sophisticated cyber attack, but the casino operator’s various websites were still offline more than 24 hours after they were apparently taken over by unknown hackers.

In a statement, Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the company’s internal information technology team, outside consultants and experts made progress toward restoring the company websites and U.S. internal systems.

“The company remains focused on working through a step-by-step process to ascertain what, if any, additional systems may have impacted,” Reese said in a statement that was e-mailed through a private account. “The company continues to assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation into the hacking activity.”

Las Vegas Sands pulled down the sites, including Internet portals to the company’s Strip resorts, early Tuesday. The hacking not only took down the websites, but also affected Las Vegas Sands’ e-mail capabilities in the U.S.

Visitors to websites for the Venetian and Palazzo were told all day Wednesday that the Internet locations were undergoing maintenance. On-screen messages provided phone numbers for the properties. The company’s websites for casinos in Macau, Singapore and Bethlehem, Pa., were also targeted in the attack.

Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said the agency was looking into the hacking. A spokeswoman for the FBI told Bloomberg News the agency was aware of the situation and is “addressing it as appropriate.”

Speculation was the hacking was in retaliation for comments made by Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson last fall during a talk at Yeshiva University in New York. Adelson, a strong advocate of Israel, suggested that the U.S. drop a nuclear weapon on Iran.

The hacked websites had a dialogue box that alluded to Adelson comment’s. The hackers also posted personal information about employees, including names, e-mails, job titles and Social Security numbers.

“Damn A, don’t let your tongue cut your throat. Encouraging the use of weapons of mass destruction, under any conditions, is a crime.”

Adelson, who is listed by Forbes as the 11th-richest person in the U.S. with a net worth of $28.5 billion, is Las Vegas Sands largest shareholder, controlling more than 53 percent of the company.

Recently, Adelson has said he “will spend whatever it takes” to kill Internet gaming legislation in the U.S. He is funding the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.