Cyber Attack Takes Down Tasmania’s Pokies

Tasmania is without pokies after a ransomeware cyber attack

Tasmania’s only casino operator is still without pokies more than a week after suffering a cyber attack. The cyber attack took place on April 3, Federal Group’s executive director Dr Daniel Hanna confirmed.

Federal Group’s Wrest Point and Country Club casinos are still without pokies. Casino workers reported seeing message demanding payment in cryptocurrency to release the pokies from the cyber attack.

So-called ransomware is common. Hackers infiltrate computer systems and demand payment in cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, otherwise, they render the hacked system unusable. The “WannaCry” ransomware attack on the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom affected more than 60 trusts for almost a week. It later spread worldwide.

Dr. Hannah issued a statement confirming the attack but did not give any timelines.

“The Australian Cyber Security Centre was notified and is coordinating relevant law enforcement agencies and continued forensic analysis. Federal Group has at all times complied with legal and regulatory requirements related to the incident.”

“The incident is being actively investigated by Federal Group and external experts we have retained, with the cooperation and involvement of relevant authorities who are assisting, and as such we cannot comment further at this stage.”

What Has The Cyber Attack Done?

Dr. Hanna and the rest of the Federal Group directors have remained vague as possible. He refused to respond to questions about whether the hackers obtained customers’ personal or financial information. Several former Federal Group IT employees believe information has been compromised.

Both Federal Group’s casino has resumed casino table games, but pokies remain offline. Computer experts have the cyber attack “contained” as of April 13.

“As a result of hard work by our team and external experts, including over the Easter long weekend, the immediate incident itself has been contained.”

It is in Federal Group’s interests to get pokies back up and running as soon as possible. Tasmanian residents spent $53.7 million on pokies during the past eight months. The average monthly spend is $6.7 million. Country Club Casino has more than 500 poker machines installed.

Security Expert Warns Of More Attack in Tasmania

Hackers will target more casinos, financial institutions, and other Tasmanian business says one security expert. Terry Aulich is an International privacy and security consultant who said restoring services following a ransomware attack can take several weeks.

“Cash-based or financially sophisticated organisations like casinos are going to be a target of attacks and they can be very sophisticated because it’s the old system. Young kids are not going to have a go at you if you’re a casino, but it’s groups of major crooks that are going to be your enemy.”

“I think it’s a view we have in Tassie about all sorts of things, that somehow or other the awful things that go on overseas, whether it’s in IT or whatever, that it’s not going to happen here in dear little old Tassie, That’s entirely untrue. They will look for the weakest link in Australian society, in Australian business, and it may well be that Tasmania is one of those.”

Who Are Federal Group?

Federal Group, the company under a cyber attack, is the oldest continually operating hotel group in Australia. It is possible to trace its origins to Melbourne in the 1880s. The Federal Coffee Palace Company Limited opened an elegant 450 bedroom establishment in 1885.

The Federal Group-owned Wrest Point Hotel opened a casino on February 10, 1973. It is Australia’s very first casino. The company opened the Country Club Casino in 1982 under a slight cloud of controversy.

Federal Group received a second casino licence after successful lobbying despite fierce opposition from a rival. More than 500 poker machines adorned the casino’s floor within days of receiving the licence.