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Cyber Security Lessons Learned from the Las Vegas Cyberattack

Kim Drinkall September 21, 2023
Cyber Security Lessons Learned from the Las Vegas Cyberattack

We’ve been discussing how cyberattacks are continuously on the rise as the world becomes ever more digital. During our Cyber Security Awareness month, a prime example has presented itself in the cyberattack on MGM Resorts, a prominent casino chain in Las Vegas. This incident not only underscores inherent vulnerabilities but also serves as a stark reminder of the evolving nature of cyber threats. 

The MGM Resorts Cyber Attack  

A Brief Overview 

MGM Resorts, a global leader with over two dozen hotel and casino locations, recently fell victim to a cyberattack that crippled many of its systems. From hotel room digital keys to slot machines, the attack rendered several services inoperable. Issues began on 11 September 2023 and are still underway.  

The Attack Execution 

The suspected culprits is a group known as Scattered Spider, a group renowned for its expertise in social engineering, particularly "vishing" – a form of phishing executed via phone calls. The attackers reportedly impersonated an MGM employee, using public information sourced from LinkedIn, to gain access to MGM's systems. This multi-million dollar attack took about 10 minutes to launch. Pretty scary, right?

Raising Awareness

It’s important to remain up to date on cyberattack methods so we can recognize these nefarious communications and not fall victim to attacks ourselves: 

  • Email Phishing: The most common form, where attackers send fraudulent emails that appear to be from trusted sources to lure victims into clicking malicious links or downloading malware. 
  • Spear Phishing: A targeted form of phishing where the attacker customises their trap for a specific individual or organisation, often using personal details to make the bait more convincing. 
  • Vishing (Voice Phishing): As demonstrated in the MGM attack, vishing involves phone calls where the attacker impersonates a trusted entity to extract sensitive information. 
  • Whaling: This is a high-stakes version of spear phishing where the cybercriminals target senior executives or other high-profile targets. 
  • Qishing (QR Code Phishing): A newer form where attackers use malicious QR codes. Once scanned, these codes can lead to malicious websites or download malware. 
  • Smishing (SMS Phishing): Similar to email phishing but executed via text messages. 
  • Angler Phishing: This method involves attackers impersonating customer support accounts on social media platforms to lure victims. They often respond to a user's legitimate complaint or query by directing them to a malicious link under the guise of assistance. 

To learn more about these types of phishing attacks, download our Phishing Field Guide and our Cyber Essentials Ebook. Your entire organisation can benefit from learning more about how to become more cyber secure.

Download our Free Cyber Essentials Ebook  

Lessons from the MGM Attack

The MGM cyberattack offers several lessons: 

  • Human Vulnerability: Even the most advanced security systems can be compromised if human vulnerabilities are exploited. In MGM's case, a simple phone call was the entry point to cause millions of dollars in financial damage as well as irreparable reputational damage.
  • The Importance of Continuous Training: Companies must regularly update their staff about the latest cyber threats and ensure they are well-equipped to handle such situations. 
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: Implementing multi-factor authentication can add an extra layer of security, making it harder for attackers to gain access. 
  • Regular System Audits: Regularly auditing and updating security systems can help in identifying potential vulnerabilities. 
  • Stay Informed: With cyber threats constantly evolving, staying informed about the latest techniques and trends is crucial. 


The MGM Resorts cyberattack is a wake-up call for organisations worldwide. In an era where our reliance on digital systems is ever-increasing, it's imperative to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. By understanding the various forms of phishing and implementing robust security measures, we can safeguard our data and maintain trust in the digital realm.