September 20, 2023

The MGM Wake-Up Call: Hackers Breach Casino Giant MGM Grand

by: Align

In a startling event last week, notorious hacking group, Scattered Spider, breached the defenses of the $14 billion gaming titan, MGM Resorts International. The repercussions were far-reaching, causing widespread disruptions that affected check-in processes, room access, gambling operations, and even phone access within hotel rooms.

Beyond the immediate impact on MGM Resorts International, this recent cybersecurity breach holds valuable lessons and insights for financial services firms across the globe and serves as a stark reminder of the pressing need for robust security measures.

Why the Financial Services Industry Should be Concerned with the Recent Cybersecurity Breach

Our experts at Align discuss the implications and key takeaways from this incident.

“The resounding messageChris Zadrima to financial services firms remains consistent: we must prioritize raising awareness through user education, implementing robust multi-factor authentication methods, and regularly testing security protocols. I’d like to point out that organizations should apply these criteria to both internal and external support personnel. Social engineering is one of the most potent and potentially devastating cyberattacks in a hacker's arsenal, and it is most often deployed when a hacker specifically targets your business. Ensuring that your internal IT or managed service provider embraces a multi-faceted user authentication approach before providing support is essential for protecting sensitive data and thwarting user impersonation.”


Data Sensitivity: Financial services firms deal with highly sensitive and confidential customer data, including personal and financial information. Any breach of this data can have severe consequences, including financial losses, damage to reputation, and regulatory fines.

Regulatory Compliance: Firms are subject to strict regulatory requirements regarding the protection of customer data and cybersecurity. Failing to protect against cyberattacks can result in regulatory penalties and legal actions.

Financial Loss: Attacks can lead to direct financial losses, including theft of funds, fraudulent transactions, and the cost of restoring systems and data. These losses can be substantial and impact a firm's bottom line.

Alex Bazay, Chief Information Security Officer

“According to the reports, the Alex Bazaymalicious actor used social engineering techniques to compromise the MGM systems.  

‘All the ALPHV ransomware group did to compromise MGM Resorts was hop on LinkedIn, find an employee, and then call the Help Desk. A company valued at $33,900,000,000 was defeated by a 10-minute conversation.’ | Source

This again outlines that the importance of cybersecurity training for employees cannot be overstated in today's digital age. As all businesses increasingly rely on technology and online platforms to conduct operations, they become more vulnerable to a myriad of cyber threats, ranging from phishing scams to ransomware attacks. Employees often serve as the first and the last line of defense against these threats, and without proper training, they can inadvertently become the weakest link in an organization's security chain. By empowering employees with the knowledge and skills to recognize and respond to potential threats, businesses not only safeguard their critical data and assets but also foster a culture of security awareness. This proactive approach mitigates risks and enhances the company's reputation, ensuring trust and confidence among stakeholders and clients.” 


Reputation Damage: News of an attack can erode customer trust and confidence in a financial institution. A damaged reputation can lead to a loss of customers and revenue, which can be challenging to recover from.

Operational Disruption: Cyberattacks can disrupt day-to-day operations, causing downtime and potentially affecting the ability to serve customers and conduct business.

Systemic Risk: Attacks can have broader systemic implications, potentially affecting the stability of financial markets. Cybersecurity is a systemic concern that regulators and industry stakeholders take seriously.

Escalation: Once a firm is targeted and vulnerable, attackers may return or share information with other malicious actors. Even if a specific attack isn't successful, it can make a firm more vulnerable to future attacks.

Given these risks, financial services firms should prioritize cybersecurity and take proactive steps to protect their systems and data.

This includes:

  • Implementing robust cybersecurity measures
  • Regularly updating and patching software
  • Conducting cybersecurity training for employees
  • Collaborating with industry peers and law enforcement to share threat intelligence

Vinod Paul, Chief Operating Officer

“Cybercriminals have discovered that ransomware Vinod Paulcan be a profitable enterprise, taking advantage of vulnerabilities and exploiting inattentive employees. They employ a range of techniques tailored to the specific companies they target. Every business, especially Financial Services, is susceptible. Businesses must take additional precautions to avoid becoming the next victim. Leveraging existing threat intelligence about these ransomware groups can help thwart upcoming attacks and prevent data breaches. Taking a proactive, intelligence-driven approach to potential threats is essential, as relying solely on a reactive strategy for threat detection may prove too late and result in irreversible damage."


If you are concerned about a potential cybersecurity attack, safeguard your firm with Align Managed IT and Cybersecurity Services.

Continue Reading

Related Articles


“Align is our trusted provider for all our Managed Services and cybersecurity needs. They provide us best-in-class IT services that not only help drive productivity and growth, but ensure we meet both current and evolving compliance and security requirements with ease. As consultants to financial advisors, trust and reliability are indispensable to our operations, which is why we never hesitate to refer Align to our very own client base. Align isn’t just our partner, they are an extension of our team. We look forward to entrusting them with our IT infrastructure for years to come.”

Ed Fasano - Experienced Advisory Consultants LLC