Vice Squad
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Extorting Web-Based Casinos

Computer-savvy crooks have targeted web-based casinos with "denial of service attacks" that render the betting sites inoperative. The crooks then suggest a payment to make the problem go away. Newsweek has an interesting story on this phenomenon, and points to how the money made at these casinos has made them attractive targets. I might add that their not-entirely legitimate position -- which was once the case for Las Vegas casinos, too, but ceased to be so when financing rules were relaxed and "normal" corporations could become involved -- adds to their attractiveness. From the Newsweek article:

"The first known wave of threats came last September, with cyber-mafiosi using massive spam attacks to slow betting sites, then following up with bland e-mails asking for payments to "fix the problem." Since then, according to British authorities and industry executives, virtually every major Internet betting site from the Caribbean to Australia has been hit, including those based in Britain, the international hub of online bookmaking."

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