Scattered Spider: The Gen-Z Hackers Who Got MGM and Caesars for $30 Billion

OCTAGONPhoto byUltra Unlimited/John Heinz

Key Takeaways:

  • A highly sophisticated hacker group known as Scattered Spider, Muddled Libra, or UNC3944 is causing chaos worldwide.
  • They have targeted numerous industries, compromising companies' data and systems.
  • Experts suspect they're driven by motives beyond money, aiming for power, influence, and notoriety.
  • Scattered Spider primarily comprises 17-22-year-olds, making it challenging to trace their origins.
  • Their ruthless tactics, including SWATing and social engineering, set them apart from typical cybercriminals.


In a digital age defined by cyber threats, a group of hackers has emerged as a formidable force in the world of cybersecurity. Known by various names, including Scattered Spider, Muddled Libra, or UNC3944, this elusive collective has wreaked havoc on an unprecedented scale. Their relentless pursuit of power, influence, and notoriety has made them a national security concern that demands attention.

Sophistication Beyond Norms

Unlike ordinary cybercriminals, Scattered Spider exhibits an unparalleled level of sophistication. Their modus operandi involves posing as employees and manipulating IT helpdesks to acquire login details. Armed with convincing employee information, they infiltrate organizations' most sensitive repositories, often resorting to data theft for extortion purposes. Their skill in social engineering and bypassing multi-factor authentication sets them apart from the average hacker.

Wide-Ranging Impact

Scattered Spider's reach extends across borders, with attacks reported from Canada to Japan. CrowdStrike, a leading cybersecurity firm, has tracked 52 attacks globally since March 2022, primarily concentrated in the United States. Even industries deemed secure, such as telecommunications, finance, hospitality, and media, have fallen victim to their relentless assaults.

Beyond Monetary Motives

What sets Scattered Spider apart is not just the scale or breadth of their attacks; it's their ruthless and power-hungry approach. They breach and exfiltrate data from company systems with unprecedented speed, overwhelming security response teams. Threatening notes to victim organizations' staff and even the dangerous practice of SWATing highlight their malevolent intent.

Elusive Identity

Unmasking Scattered Spider's identity proves challenging. Analysts suggest that the group predominantly comprises individuals aged 17-22, mainly from Western countries. However, the exact number of members remains unclear. Their tactics involve social engineering, particularly 'SIM swapping,' where they manipulate telecom company representatives to reassign phone numbers. Their in-depth knowledge of large organizations, including vendors and contractors, allows them to target individuals with privileged access.

Collaborative Efforts

Scattered Spider operates in tandem with other groups, such as ALPHV, a "ransomware-as-a-service." These collaborations provide Scattered Spider with the necessary software and attack tools to execute their campaigns. In return, ALPHV receives a share of the profits. Such partnerships are common in the cybercriminal underworld.

Real-World Impact

The MGM hack serves as a stark reminder of the tangible consequences of ransomware attacks. Las Vegas witnessed chaos as gaming machines stalled, and hotel systems faltered. Scattered Spider, like other ransomware gangs, continues to evolve its methods, adapting to the latest security measures. Their actions are akin to an ever-evolving game of cat and mouse.


Scattered Spider's audacious cyber campaigns are more than just a matter of data breaches; they threaten national security. As they continue to exploit vulnerabilities worldwide, experts emphasize the need for comprehensive cybersecurity strategies to combat this relentless force. The group's motives, driven by power, influence, and notoriety, make them a formidable challenge for governments and organizations alike.

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