Gambling Federation Head Regrets Tactic in Fighting Hacker

22 February 2005

In an effort to fight fire with fire an official with Gambling Federation now admits he might have made a mistake in dealing with a hacker attack aimed at some of GF's online casinos.

The Canadian-based Gambling Federation runs a large affiliate network of online casinos and the company's CEO, Flaviano Fogli, said a former employee who had a vendetta against one of GF's shareholders decided to attack some of GF's sites.

The situation was brought to Fogli's attention after customers complained of getting unsolicited e-mails encouraging them to play at non-GF sites.

"He had been stealing our e-mail database from us for years and we just didn't know it," Fogli said.

A quick investigation also revealed that malware – malicious software that prevents sites from being accessed – had been installed on the GF download preventing many players from accessing the sites.

"I knew right away who was behind it," Fogli said.

Unsure of how to respond, Fogli decided to have his software engineers include code the prevented access to three sites, which had been created by the former employee.

Quickly after the counter-attack was launched by GF Fogli realized a mistake had been made.

The malware was quickly reported through message boards and users started to question the legitimacy of Gambling Federation – a longtime member of the Interactive Gaming Council of which Fogli is a board member.

Players pointed out that the covert insertion of the code on their computers was a gross invasion of privacy, and the potential damage to business at the targeted sites was considered to be unethical.

By then, Fogli said, perceptions were made and regardless of the real situation GF was put in a bad light.

"Now I look like the bad guy and I am not," Fogli said.

Fogli reiterated the fact that the code was aimed only at three specific casinos -- Royal Dutch Casino, The Blackjack Table and Casinoxo -- and not at any "legitimate" operations.

"We have never taken this measure before but we didn't feel like we had any other choice and I can assure everyone that only the three casinos were the only target," he said. "He was corrupting our software so we tried to corrupt his. We made a mistake and I have no one to blame by myself."

In response to the incident Fogli issued a statement on a forum to players on

"While our actions were not justified, readers of this message thread should know that Gambling Federation is a victim of an orchestrated attack to mislead our players," the statement read.

"Over the past few months, we received numerous complaints from our players enquiring about unsolicited promotional e-mail delivered to a players e-mail address that was used only to communicate with Gambling Federation casinos," he explained. "After reviewing the complaints from our players, it become apparent that one of our ex-employees was inappropriately and unethically stealing part of our player list, contacting our players and promoting non-Gambling Federation casinos.

"We recognize that our actions were based on emotive judgment," the statement went on to read. "We reacted to an unethical attack by applying the same philosophy with which our company was unfairly attacked. Regardless of our reasoning, we would like to extend our apologies to the investors and employees of Gambling Federation and in particular all our players and affiliates that have contributed to the success of our company over the years."

In the meantime, Fogli said, the offending former employee has set up residence and some business operations in Costa Rica, making it nearly impossible for him to face criminal charges of any kind.

Fogli said he is in communication with his legal team to determine the best course of action against the former employee and how to proceed next in getting the reputation of his business back.

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