Hackers Who Attended Black Hat and DefCon Conferences Say Hotel Security Personnel and Las Vegas Strip Demanded Access To Their Rooms

More than two dozen hackers and security experts who attended security events last week say security personnel at the Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Aria, Cromwell, Tuscany, Linq, or Mirage hotels had entered their rooms. Security news site The Parallax reports: Except for Tuscany, which is independent, all of these hotels are owned by either Caesars Entertainment or MGM Resorts International. And of the three hotel companies, only Caesars returned a request for comment. Richard Broome, executive vice president of communications and government relations for Caesars Entertainment, whose Caesars Palace is co-hosting DefCon this year with the Flamingo, said that following the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history last year, “periodic” hotel room checks are now standard operating procedure in Las Vegas. On October 1, 2017, from his room at the Mandalay Bay, Stephen Paddock used semiautomatic weapons he’d outfitted with bump stocks to kill 58 people and wound at least 527 others attending a gated country music concert on the Strip below. […] Two apparent Caesars security officers wearing hotel name tags displaying only the first names “Cynthia” and “Keith,” respectively, as well as sheriff’s style badges that looked like they came out of a Halloween costume kit, visited my room while I was writing this story. Cynthia told me that they are instructed to refer to the front desk guests who decline to allow their room to be searched.

After Cynthia and Keith declined to disclose their last names to me, I asked what they intended to do in the room. They told me that they would enter it, type a code into the room’s phone line to signal that it’s been checked, and then do a visual spot check. When I asked what they would be looking for, Cynthia replied, “WMDs — that sort of thing.” Other conference attendees reported similar but less pleasant interactions. Katie Moussouris, CEO of Luta Security, wrote on Twitter that two hotel security personnel were “banging” on her room door and “shouted” at her. She also said the hotel’s security team supervisor “dismissed” her concerns over how the hotel was treating single, female travelers. Google security engineer Maddie Stone tweeted that a man wearing a light-blue shirt and a walkie-talkie entered her Caesars Palace room with a key, but without knocking, while she was getting dressed. “He left when I started screaming,” she wrote, adding that a hotel manager, upon her request, said Caesars would look into whether the man was actually an employee. Stone tweeted that she left DefCon early because of the incident.