Plot Thickens in 2016 Hacking of Casino Rama

Victims file class action lawsuit in Casino Rama hack.

Victims file Class Action in Casino Rama Hack, up to 200,000 Impacted?

While British Columbia continues to deal with its never-ending casino money-laundering scandal, Ontarians are still reeling from a casino hacking incident that resulted in the sensitive personal and financial information of nearly 11,000 individuals being publicly posted on the world wide web for all duplicitous eyes to see. The incident occurred at one of Ontario’s most popular gambling establishments, leaving players, staff members and even vendors fearing for the security of their identities.

The hacking of Casino Rama took place back in November of 2016. Some perceived that Casino Rama was doing the right and ethical thing – being a “good corporate citizen” – by informing tens of thousands of people that their information may have been compromised. For many of the casino’s employees, patrons and vendors, however, sympathy was far from their mind. They immediately contacted the legal team of Charney Lawyers, who initiated a class action lawsuit just three days after the incident.

The Casino Rama Hack

On November 4, 2016, Casino Rama was informed that it had suffered a grievous breach in security. Its internal computer network had been hacked, compromising the names, addresses, income and employment information, credit files, gambling losses and other details of their customers, employees, and vendors.

The casino reported the incident to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Then, Casino Rama sent out a mass email to all customers, staff and vendors informing them of the situation; that their sensitive information may have been compromised, and that they’re working with the OPP, RCMP and OLG to rectify the matter.

On November 11, 2016, the hacker made good on his threat to post the sensitive information on a public website. Approximately 10,900 individuals were victimized in the cyberattack. The hacker posted a total of 4.5 gigabytes worth of data, and threatened to publish a further 150 gigabytes of data.

New Evidence Leads Request for Class Action Extension

The case had been trudging along ever-so-slowly up until late January 2019, when Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner released the findings of its investigation into the matter. The investigator’s report concluded that:

[Casino Rama] did not have reasonable security measures in place to prevent unauthorized access to records of personal information.”

In light of this new “evidence”, the plaintiff’s legal team is now seeking to expand the class action to as many as 200,000 victims, seeking $60 million in damages. Lead attorney, Ted Charney, was in court on Thursday pleading the case. He argued that the victims go far beyond those impacted by the publication of sensitive data; that past and present employees, vendors and patrons, including those in the voluntary self-exclusion program, should be included as well.

“Thank goodness we now have the commissioner’s report,” Charney told the court. “We have evidence now that a substantial number of patrons had data on the two servers. There’s some basis in fact that their information wasn’t adequately protected.”

Defense Paints Casino Rama as “Good Corporate Citizen”

Lead defense attorney Cathy Beagan-Flood contends that the plaintiff’s proposed extension to the class is far too broad; that only 10,000-11,000 were impacted, and therefore should be included. She also disputes the validity of the Ontario privacy commissioner’s report, stating:

The (privacy commissioner) did not have all of the information. The evidence is that the non-Windows servers would not have been vulnerable.”

Beagan-Flood contends that the information of many more patrons and employees were stored on non-Windows based systems that were not vulnerable to the cyberattack. She goes on to paint Casino Rama as a “good corporate citizen” that should not be punished for making the quick and ethical decision to send out emails to tens of thousands of people, warning them they may have been effected by the Casino Rama hack.

Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba expects to deliver a decision on the motion to extend the class action in May.

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