Stop us if this sounds familiar: a company executive does something that makes a foreign government’s leadership upset. A few months later, hackers break into the company’s network through a persistent cyber attack, and plant malware that erases the contents of hard drives, shuts down e-mail servers and phone systems, and brings operations to a screeching halt.
That’s not just what happened to Sony Pictures Entertainment in late November—it’s also what happened to Las Vegas Sands Corp., owners of the Sands, Venetian and Palazzo hotels and casinos in a cyber attack that began last January. The attack and the damage it did were kept quiet by the company until it was reported in a story by Bloomberg Businessweek today.
Attempts to reach Las Vegas Sands Corp. have gone unanswered, and a spokesperson for Dell SecureWorks—which was brought in to clean up the mess afterward and determine its cause—declined to speak about the article as it is the company’s policy not to discuss work done for a customer. But according to Bloomberg’s sources, the Sands attack was undertaken by “hacktivists” who were responding to a speech by Sands majority owner Sheldon Adelson. The billionaire 52-percent owner of the Sands and Israeli media mogul made an October 2013 appearance on a panel at the Manhattan campus of Yeshiva University, where he called for a nuclear attack on Iran to get the country to abandon its own nuclear program.