The Cache Creek Casino Resort in Northern California has been shut down since September 20 due to a “systems infrastructure failure,” which occurred after its computers were the target of a cyber attack.

Ransomware Suspected

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, which owns the Cache Creek Casino, confirmed that the incident was caused by “an external attack on our computer network,” according to the Sacramento Bee. The tribal casino is located in Brooks, CA, an hour east of Sacramento.

“The privacy of our guests and employees is our highest priority and we want to make certain they have some peace-of-mind,” a casino spokesperson explained. “We are working closely with independent experts who regularly investigate incidents of this type to determine any risks to data security. Attacks like these are significant and can take weeks to research thoroughly.”

Sources verified that the FBI is investigating the incident to determine if the cyber attack was an attempt to plant ransomware on the casino network. Meanwhile, the casino remains closed while the crime is under investigation.

“While we do not yet have a reopening date, we are making good progress and expect to announce a reopening date soon,” the spokesperson said.

A Growing Problem

Ransomware is a growing problem in the information age. Hackers fish for holes in the cyber security of a business in order to exploit data, steal account information, or plant malware known as ransomware. Once the hacker gains access to a victim’s computer, they can plant ransomware on the machine or network. The ransomware effectively locks the infected machine and encrypts it so the victim has no access. Then the hacker contacts the victim and demands a ransom in order to release the infected computer.

According to a spokesperson at the Norton computer security company, “The idea behind ransomware, a form of malicious software, is simple: Lock and encrypt a victim’s computer or device data, then demand a ransom to restore access.”

Hackers can potentially gain access to any computer or network with internet access, and casinos use computer networks for their customer accounts, day to day operations, and slot machines. Progressive slots are linked in order to add to the jackpot, and the network can potentially be hacked.

Last February and March, Four Queens Hotel and Casino and Binion’s in Downtown Las Vegas were victims of cyber attacks. Press photos showed rows of dead slot machines and empty casino floors months before the pandemic lockdowns.

The casinos were forced to shut down all local networks and slots due to the threat of a ransomware attack. During this period, all transactions were cash only, and electronic gambling was off the table.

The Yocha Dehe Wintun tribe issued a statement on the incident:

Cache Creek Casino Resort will remain closed while we fortify our infrastructure and restore all operations,” the tribe’s statement said. “Unfortunately, and as reported in the news, these computer attacks are becoming increasingly frequent, with major banks, a large healthcare company and a well-known Las Vegas casino becoming recent targets.

We will be stronger from this, and we will remain vigilant in protecting our operation from these network predators. We are undaunted in our commitment to the security of our organization and the future of our business.”

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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.