REFILE-Las Vegas Sands websites remain down as Feds investigate hack

Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:13pm EST

Feb 13 (Reuters) - The websites of Las Vegas Sands' casinos around the world on Thursday remained down for a third straight day, as the company and U.S. federal investigators race to unravel a hacking attack that defaced home pages and also exposed sensitive employee information.

Sands, which owns the Venetian on the Vegas Strip as well as in the Chinese gambling boomtown of Macau, had not ruled out the theft of customer information such as credit card numbers. But it has verified that "certain" core operations had not been affected, spokesman Ron Reese said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the websites including the main corporate site, still displayed "undergoing maintenance" messages. The company's internal email system, taken down Monday, remained non-functional.

Reese said the company was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other federal authorities in the current investigation.

"While we have been able to confirm that certain core operating systems were not impacted by the hacking, the company remains focused on working through a step-by-step process to ascertain what, if any, additional systems may have been impacted," Reese said in a statement.

"The company continues to assist local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the investigation into the hacking activity."

The attack by unknown perpetrators began on Monday, when the company's email system went down. On Tuesday, the websites themselves went offline.

According to the Associated Press, a local newspaper posted screen shots of sites - before they were taken down - that showed Sands Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson posing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside a message condemning weapons of mass destruction.

The CEO is an outspoken advocate of Israel, as well as a prominent opponent of online gaming legislation.

In addition, at least one website briefly displayed some employees' social security numbers, Reese said

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