In a unique bit of revenue raising, Russian computer hackers threatened William Hill, along with Canbet, with “Denial of Service” attacks as a means of attempting to blackmail the bookmakers for cash.
Old news for sure, with the offences occurring in 2003 for Canbet and 2004 for William Hill. We just weren’t aware that it had happened to Canbet along with William Hill (and likely many other bookmakers also).
Not surprisingly, the computer hackers were representing criminals, in this case Russian criminal gangs, and the scam was supposed to play out like this:
1. Send an email to a large online bookmaker threatening them with a “Denial of Service” attack – where the hackers would send overwhelming amounts of requests to the company’s server and crash the site. With the case of Canbet, such a site crash was said to cost over $200,000 per day that their site was down.
2. Recieve payment for the extortion into offshore banks. In the Canbet instance, $40,000 was the requested amount, instructed to be sent to a Latvian bank. From there, cash was sent on to Russian banks and into the hands of the criminals.
3. Repeat #1.
And there you have it. A pretty simple scam.
I actually found it surprising that Canbet played ball with the extortionists, but you can also understand why they would have parted with $40,000 to prevent such an attack. It wouldn’t take long for the hackers to cripple your business should a denial of service carry on for days at a time. Not only with the financial losses from a non-functioning site, but if disgruntled regular punters, the lifeblood of a bookmaking operation, leave for other outlets online your revenues would quickly take a dive. Even if the site was to come back online eventually, you may find that no clients are waiting there to bet with you.
Reports are that Canbet paid the blackmail several times to prevent these attacks on their bookmaking operation – but police were contacted when it became apparent that the blackmail would not stop.
William Hill suffered only slight inconvenience as a result of an attack – and claimed to have never paid the ransom demand. Wisely, Hill’s decided to invest instead in software that would prevent such attacks from occurring. Makes you wonder why Canbet didn’t go down that road?
Arrests were made by tracking the destination of the money and the origin of the offending cyber attacks.
Just goes to show, bookies have their own headaches too.
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