IMEX America on Track in Spite of Vegas Cybersecurity Attacks

The trade show's organizers are confident systems will be fully functional when the events industry meets in MGM Resorts' Mandalay Bay next month.

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Officials at IMEX America, one of the meetings industry's largest events, calmed fears today that the cybersecurity attack on MGM Resorts International would affect reservations and other plans for the trade show, which takes place Oct. 17-19.

"We’ve been in close contact with the team at MGM over the past week and know how hard they are working to resolve the issues faced as a result of this cyberattack," said Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group. "With IMEX America a month away, we are very confident that there will be little or no impact on our community of exhibitors and buyers. We will continue to work hand in hand with the MGM team to ensure that IMEX America is an outstanding experience for our industry."

Despite the current challenges, MGM officials added much is functioning as usual now. "At this time, the vast majority of our property offerings are operational, and we continue to welcome tens of thousands of guests every day," said Stephanie Glanzer, chief sales officer and senior vice president of MGM Resorts International. "We continue to deliver the dining, entertainment and gaming experiences for which we are known, and to successfully host many meetings and events in our convention spaces. We look forward to welcoming IMEX exhibitors, buyers and attendees for another great program next month!" 

An FAQ on the company's website, which is now operational, notes, "We are still accepting hotel reservations through third-party booking sites for stays beginning on September 15, 2023. We are working hard to activate our call centers and direct booking through our website and mobile app. We look forward to welcoming you."

MGM loyalty member data compromised

MGM said the cyberattack first became apparent Sunday, Sept. 8, at which time the company shut down much of its customer-service systems. The incident affected everything from video slot machines to hotel and dining reservations.

According to the Associated Press, by Monday Sept. 9, when Dulce Martinez was trying to book accommodations for an upcoming business trip, she learned of the breach and immediately checked her bank statements for the credit card linked to her loyalty account. She was greeted by four new transactions she did not recognize — charges that she said increased with each transaction, from $9.99 to $46. She canceled the credit card and signed up for a credit-report monitoring program.

In a recent statement, MGM said, "Promptly after detecting the issue, we quickly began an investigation with assistance from leading external cybersecurity experts. We also notified law enforcement and took prompt action to protect our systems and data, including shutting down certain systems. Although the issue is affecting some of the company’s systems, the vast majority of our property offerings currently remain operational, and we continue to welcome tens of thousands of guests each day."

Targeting gaming and hospitality

Last week, Caesars Entertainment — the largest casino owner in the world — also let the world know that it had been hit by a cybersecurity attack. Its casino and hotel computer operations weren't disrupted the way MGM's were, but Caesars couldn't say with certainty that the personal information of tens of millions of its customers was secure.

On Friday, Yoohwan Kim, a computer science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose expertise includes network security, told the Associated Press that casino giants like MGM Resorts and Caesars are protected by sophisticated — and expensive — security operations. But no system is perfect. "Hackers are always fighting for that 0.0001 percent weakness," Kim said. "Usually, that weakness is human-related, like phishing."