Gateway Casinos employees at the company’s 14 properties in Ontario are furious at how the organization responded to a cyberattack earlier this year. That incident forced the gaming floors to close for two weeks.
Gateway Casinos workers at the company’s Penticton property are seen in a 2017 file photograph. Gateway’s casinos in Ontario were recently the target of a cyberattack that has many employees frustrated with how the company handled the ransomware event. (Image: Western News)
Gateway Casinos in the Canadian province abruptly shuttered their gaming operations on April 16. That’s after the company’s information technology officers determined a cyberattack had successfully infiltrated the organization’s network. Gateway said the ransomware event rendered the company unable to carry on with its normal day-to-day operations.
As a result, thousands of workers were told to stay home. Gateway said it resolved the matter on April 29 and reopened Gateway Casinos Innisfil. The rest of the company’s Ontario casinos opened in the following days and weeks.
More than a month later, Gateway only recently began offering free credit monitoring services for its employees. That came after third-party cyber professionals assisting the company in restoring the network and IT systems determined that confidential data had likely been seized in the attack.
“While our investigation remains ongoing, Gateway understands that the incident may have resulted in the theft of personal information of certain current and former employees in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario,” a Gateway statement this week read. “At this time, we are not aware of any misuse of information. However, we take the privacy and security of personal information very seriously and want to make sure our employees are kept informed,” the Gateway notice explained.
Unifor is a leading trade union in Canada that represents casino workers in Ontario, including at the Gateway properties. Union spokesperson Greg Weaver voiced objections to Gateway only now offering free credit monitoring services to employees.
Weaver says such service should have been afforded to staffers immediately following the cyberattack.
[Gateway] should have done it from the get-go,” Weaver told Barrie Today. “There is a major concern among our employees. Personal information is confidential, and if it’s out there, who knows what could happen.”
Weaver added that Gateway Casinos workers are “extremely upset.”
“They don’t know if their information has been shared on the dark web. They just know it was susceptible,” Weaver added.
Details Remain Scant
Officials with Gateway Casinos have refused to comment on whether the company paid a ransom to restore its IT systems. The company has said only that it continues to work with law enforcement, financial regulators, and “expert advisors.”
Employees are often the reason for successful cyberattacks, says technology expert Carmi Levy. Speaking with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Levy says hackers target employees inside the organization with phishing emails.
The emails, which Levy says look legitimate, sometimes result in the employee downloading a file to a company computer that provides the cybercriminals with direct access to the organization’s IT systems.
“We think of ransomware as a technology issue, but it’s a human resources issue, a training issue,” Levy said.
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