Casino cybercrime gang has already attacked over 100 companies, experts claim

A fish hook is lying across a computer keyboard, representing a phishing attack on a computer system
(Image credit: weerapatkiatdumrong / Getty Images)

The cybercrime gang reportedly behind recent cyberattacks against several Las Vegas casinos has been extremely active in its brief, two-year lifespan, a new report has claimed.

The findings from Mandiant on the group known as Scattered Spider states it may have successfully hit approximately 100 companies, including employees of Okta, a popular employee identity solutions provider. 

The threat actors usually go for SMS phishing and phone-based social engineering, so in its very essence, this is a scam organization. By tricking people into giving away the login credentials to various company services, the group manages to wiggle its way into endpoints, where it does all kinds of malicious activities, from stealing sensitive data to - in more recent times - deploying ransomware. 

Moving to ransomware

This move into ransomware began in mid-2023, the researchers argue, claiming that is when the group’s “expansion in its monetization strategies” began. 

“These changes in their end goals signal that the industries targeted by UNC3944 will continue to expand," the analysis says. Mandiant tracks Scattered Spider as UNC3944. "Mandiant has already directly observed their targeting broaden beyond telecommunication and business process outsourcer (BPO) companies to a wide range of industries including hospitality, retail, media and entertainment, and financial services."

When it goes phishing, the group uses three kits - Eightbait (used between late 2021 and mid-2022), and in newer times two unnamed kits, which were mostly used in parallel. 

When it comes to ransomware, the group seems to have chosen BlackCat, also known as ALPHV. This is a known ransomware-as-a-service provider that’s been used in numerous high-profile ransomware attacks. 

"ALPHV operates as a RaaS and we have observed UNC3944 deploy this ransomware," Mandiant's threat intel team told The Register. "In these partnerships, the operators of the ransomware will typically provide builds to its affiliates to distribute along with other related support services such as infrastructure that allows easy management of victims and extortion support (e.g. DDoS)."

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.