by Manjit Gombra Singh
In an era where digital advancements have transformed the gaming landscape, cybersecurity stands as the paramount defense against unseen adversaries. The tribal gaming industry in the U.S. has long been an essential pillar of the economy, contributing significantly to both local communities and the nation. With the rising prevalence of cyber threats, it becomes imperative for senior executives in the tribal gaming industry to recognize the criticality of cybersecurity. By taking inspiration from the new Nevada cybersecurity regulation, tribal gaming entities can fortify their defenses and ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability on their own, without regulatory requirements as we have seen in Nevada.
The tribal gaming industry, deeply rooted in tribal sovereignty and economic development, faces a multitude of vulnerabilities and risks in the digital age. Malevolent actors seek to exploit these weaknesses, aiming to disrupt operations, steal sensitive data, or extract financial gains. Recent high-profile cyberattacks on gaming entities have underscored the urgent need for a consistent and comprehensive cybersecurity framework across the industry.
The implications of a successful cyberattack on tribal casinos and gaming operations are far-reaching. Beyond the immediate financial losses, the erosion of customer trust and reputational damage can have long-lasting consequences. Moreover, the potential disruption of vital services such as gaming, player databases, or financial systems can severely impact revenue streams.
While some states and tribes have implemented cybersecurity regulations, the current landscape remains fragmented. A lack of uniformity leads to disparities in security practices, leaving some entities more vulnerable than others. Recognizing this, tribal gaming operators have an opportunity to prioritize collaboration and adopt a cohesive approach to cybersecurity.
The New Nevada Cybersecurity Regulation: A Game-Changer
The recent introduction of the Nevada cybersecurity regulation has set a new standard for the gaming industry. This pioneering framework focuses on enhancing data privacy, establishing incident response protocols, and ensuring regular assessments of IT infrastructure. Nevada gaming regulation provides inspiration for tribal gaming to establish a similar framework as an industry standard for cybersecurity.
The new regulation sets out several requirements for covered entities in Nevada. Nevada licensed companies must take steps to:
• Protect their information systems from cyber threats.
• Conduct risk assessments using best practices to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.
• Additionally, they must continuously monitor their cybersecurity risks and report significant attacks to the Nevada Gaming Control Board within 72 hours.
• Maintain written records of their compliance with the regulation for at least five years.
The goal of the regulation is to ensure that covered entities prioritize the protection of their customers’ sensitive information against cyber threats.
By establishing a similar framework, tribal gaming entities can strengthen their defenses and protect their operations and customers from ever-evolving cyber threats. Tribal gaming entities, known for their strong sense of regulatory oversight, can unite to confront the significant threat of cyberattacks. By leveraging collective expertise and resources, they can effectively address these challenges and establish a comprehensive cybersecurity framework. Through collaboration and knowledge sharing, tribal gaming entities can develop standardized cybersecurity guidelines as an industry benchmark. Overcoming obstacles, they can ensure successful implementation and tailor guidelines to meet the unique needs of the tribal gaming industry. This unity sends a powerful message of resilience, to protect communities, drive economic development, and secure the industry’s future in a digital landscape.
Nevertheless, implementing comprehensive cybersecurity guidelines does come with its fair share of challenges. However, the benefits of such an investment far outweigh the risks of inaction.
Ensuring Industry Standard Infrastructure
Building a robust cybersecurity infrastructure requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses risk assessments, continuous threat monitoring, and incident response. Tribal gaming entities could take the following steps to establish an industry-standard infrastructure:
• Conduct Risk Assessments – Perform regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the potential impact of cyber threats on the organization. This process involves analyzing the security posture of information systems, assessing potential risks, and prioritizing mitigation strategies. By conducting thorough risk assessments, tribal gaming entities can proactively identify weaknesses and implement appropriate security controls.
• Employ Continuous Threat Monitoring – Establish continuous threat monitoring mechanisms to identify and respond to emerging cyber threats in real time. This involves implementing security information and event management (SIEM) systems, and advanced threat intelligence tools. Secure network architectures using firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), DDOS prevention, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are fundamental pieces to building a secure IT infrastructure. Continuous monitoring should be done to enable tribal gaming entities to detect and respond to threats promptly, minimizing the potential impact of cyber incidents.
• Develop an Incident Response Plan – Create a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber incident. This includes defining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication channels, and detailing the specific actions to be taken during different stages of an incident. An effective incident response plan ensures a coordinated and swift response to cyber threats, minimizing downtime and potential damage.
• Foster Collaboration and Information Sharing – Consider developing a Tribal Information Sharing & Analysis Center (Tribal ISAC) is a way for every tribal gaming entity to share intelligence. Tribal ISAC serves as a platform for sharing cybersecurity intelligence, best practices, and threat information within the industry. By developing a Tribal ISAC, tribes can collaborate, exchange knowledge, and collectively respond to emerging threats. This collaborative approach strengthens their defenses and enhances the overall cybersecurity posture of the industry. Engaging in industry-wide collaborations and partnerships further bolsters their cybersecurity infrastructure.
Prioritizing Business Continuity: Why Tribal Gaming Should Act Now
Viewed through the lens of risk management, cybersecurity acts as insurance against potential threats. The gaming industry has witnessed numerous high-profile cyber incidents that have resulted in significant financial losses and reputational damage. From ransomware attacks to data breaches, the costs, and consequences of a cyberattack are substantial.
By using the Nevada cybersecurity regulation as a guideline, tribal gaming entities can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding customer data, protecting their reputation, and securing the industry’s future. The cost of implementing robust cybersecurity measures is a small price to pay when compared to the potential losses incurred from a successful cyberattack.
In an industry fueled by innovation and technology, cybersecurity stands as the bedrock for sustainable growth and success. Tribal gaming operators and governments have an opportunity to recognize the critical importance of cybersecurity and embrace a proactive approach to mitigate cyber risks. The new Nevada cybersecurity regulation sets an industry standard, offering a comprehensive framework for tribal gaming entities to follow.
By aligning cybersecurity practices, fostering collaboration, and staying ahead of cyber threats, the tribal gaming industry can continue to flourish. Let us unite, educate, and protect the future of tribal gaming through robust cybersecurity measures, forging a path toward an industry that thrives in the digital age.
Manjit Gombra Singh is CEO of DruvStar. He can be reached by email at [email protected].