Iran’s Cyber-Attack on Billionaire Adelson Was Lesson on Strategy

October 2013 was the date that Sheldon Adelson – a casino magnate and conspicuous supporter of conservative politicians and Israel – appeared on a New York panel in which he implied that the United States could deliver a message to Iran regarding its nuclear intentions, by detonating a warhead in the center of the Iranian desert.

“Do you want to be wiped out? Go on and take a tough position!” Adelson stated. The spiteful comments enraged Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader and two weeks later exclaimed that “America should slap these babbling people in the mouth.”

Who is Sheldon Adelson?

Sheldon Gary Adelson is a notable American casino magnate, financer, philanthropist, and political donor. He possesses the Israeli and American daily newspaper, owns the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and Venetian Macao Limited that operates the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino as well as the Sands Expo and Convention Center. In addition, Adelson is the creator, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands.

All of the above turned him into the world’s wealthiest casino owner and the 24th richest person in the world, having a fortune of $37.7 billion.

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Iran’s Cyber Attack

In February 2014, malware was inserted into the computer networks of Adelson’s Las Vegas casino by hackers. The cyber-attack affected about three quarters of the company’s Las Vegas servers.

Recovering data and building new systems costed $40 million or more. A year after the attack, the top US intelligence official confirmed that Iran was behind it.

Iran may not be on the same level as China, Russia or the US when it comes to offensive cyber skills, but these efforts have shown that it can be a highly capable and destructive force willing to attack targets on US soil.

But more recent discoveries point to moves by Tehran to position itself to strike at the very heart of the US by targeting critical national infrastructure, including power grids and government agencies. Now, the assassination of Qassem Soleimani could be the trigger to launch this attack.

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