Cyber security a focus at TribalNet’s upcoming Nashville conference Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports · November 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm Tribal casinos continue to be vulnerable to computer hacking that could potentially expose their customers’ personal information and credit card data to criminals. The issue is one of several to be discussed at the 20th annual TribalNet conference and trade show, which kicks off Monday in Nashville. Technology and leadership are key topics of the conference, which brings together tribal leaders, casino executives and tech experts from across the country. “This is a big deal (involving) a lot of money, time and risk,” said Mike Day, the founder and CEO of TribalNet, the hosts of the four-day event. “We have seen a lot of breaches in the gaming world, and not all of them are making the national news. It’s a target-rich environment with a lot of information on people.” In 2014, Iranian hackers targeted Las Vegas Sands Corp. and stole the credit card data, Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers of customers. Hard drives were also wiped, and the company’s corporate website was defaced. In 2015 and 2016, Hard Rock reported data breaches that targeted credit cards. In 2013, Affinity Gaming said its credit card system was breached in 12 casinos in four states. In a notorious 2017 incident, an unnamed North American casino was reportedly targeted by hackers through a thermostat in a fish tank. “There’s credit card information and other customer data, and you have it where people are locking data on you,” Day said. “This is happening multiple times a month in the industry. (People are) paying ransom. It’s happening to everybody, and you need to be aware of it. You don’t want to be paying a ransom because you have a breach.” Industry analysts said the public perception of casinos is one of high security, with surveillance cameras, guards and game protection, but that there’s also an unwillingness in the industry to spend on cyber security protection because there’s no return on investment unless there is a breach. That’s especially true for smaller tribal casinos who think no one will bother to target them. It can cost up to $25,000 for assessments, and much of the other expenses are related to staff needed to monitor and investigate. Day said a tribal casino can have a great security program in place, but if employees are clicking on nefarious emails and files that allows hackers to access the property, that can create a lot of havoc. There are plenty of casino-related topics to be discussed at this year’s conference. A session Monday deals with the future of the hospitality experience: what the hotel room and experience will look like in the future and what technology will be involved. It will look at self-service options, return on investment, and how AirBnB and capsule hotels could change the future for gaming and hospitality. “We do attempt, in our sessions, to look at things with a view to the future,” Day said. “I think that is what people are interested in. Technology is changing quickly. We like to look at what’s working and what isn’t. We’ve had lots of organizations that have tried different technologies in their hotel rooms with varying degrees of success. We’re looking at how to make a better experience for a connected customer from before check in, during check in and while they’re staying on the property.” A session will cover where sports betting currently stands among tribal properties and where that might be heading. Another will focus on successful and profitable new technologies and platforms in gaming and hospitality and whether they are worth the investment. #exclusive – Cyber security a focus at TribalNet’s upcoming Nashville conference. –@BrianBuckWargo, CDC Gaming Reports. https://t.co/sNJBlqzCEL @TribalNetOnline #CDCgaming — CDC Gaming Reports (@CDCNewswire) November 10, 2019 There’s also a session on artificial intelligence and its potential to be a game changer in the industry. Experts will talk about journey mapping in a casino and how that can improve the experience of the customer. The use of the mobile wallet in gaming will be a highlight of the conference. Tribal gaming regulators will participate in the conference, as well. Day said there’s been a lot of discussion over the past couple of decades about whether new technology is being held back by regulatory agencies or by organizations unwilling to push innovation. “We’ve seen this at G2E, people saying that we’re behind the times with technology,” he said.