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Iran hacks America where it hurts: Las Vegas casinos

Digital Pearl Harbour debunked by US director of national intelligence

US director of National Intelligence James Clapper has accused Iran of orchestrating a 2014 hack of the Las Vegas Sands casino. The attack crippled the magnificent cultural institution's IT infrastructure.

Clapper told a US Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday (US time) that the hack of the US$14 billion casino was the handiwork of Iran rather than ordinary hacking groups, Bloomberg reports.

"While both of these nations (Iran and North Korea) have lesser technical capabilities in comparison to Russia and China, these destructive attacks demonstrate that Iran and North Korea are motivated and unpredictable cyber-actors," Clapper says.

The attacks brought down the casino's IT systems including email but not the most valuable components of the organisation.

The gambling giant said at the time that punters' credit card details were safe.

Las Vegas Sands appears to have been targeted due to the casino chief executive office Sheldon Adelson's public support of Israel, according to Bloomberg.

The alleged Iranian hackers commandeered the website emblazoning it with a shoddy slapdash image of the Casino's US sites in flames, accompanied with a photo of Adelson socialising with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It warned he should not “let your tongue cut your throat” adding that “encouraging the use of weapons of mass destruction, under any conditions, is a crime".

The hack went further and included a scrolling bar sporting sensitive details of some of the Casino's employees.

Clapper's Senate musings also covered Russia's hacking resources, which he said are an underestimated threat without disclosing why. He also poured cold water on the notion of a hyperbolic past predictions of kinetic cyberwar in which US national security mouthpieces foretold of a digital Pearl Harbour.

“Rather than a ‘cyber-Armageddon’ scenario that debilitates the entire US infrastructure, we envision … an ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyber-attacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on U.S. economic competitiveness and national security” he said on Thursday.

The breath of reason was tempered by the potentially lost irony that belligerents could target “supply-chain operations to insert compromised hardware or software”, a feat revealed to be the mastery of the NSA thanks to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Discussion also covered the possibility of supplying arms to the Ukrainian Army and the success of US air strikes against ISIS military targets. ®

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