A casino hacker who introduced himself as Alex in the interview with Wired magazine, claims that he can manage winnings in slot machines. He was able to unravel the algorithms of machines and has a long time earn $250,000 per week.
Now, casino hacker requires a ransom for the termination of its activities. Otherwise, threatens to unveil a hacking technique that will crash the whole slot machines system around the world. As proof, Alex provided audio recordings of conversations, mathematical computations, and correspondence with companies producing slot machines.
In the interview, Wired learned that Alex is Russian, presumably studied two years at the FSB Academy, the government school that trains prospective members of the country’s intelligence apparatus and he worked at the Military Academy of Communications, which specializes in teaching cryptography and hardware hacking.
He understands mathematics, and always was interested in the mechanism of slot machines. We can say that the basis for the future success of the hacker was his ability to reverse engineer the algorithms. In other words, he can understand the internal arrangement of the algorithm in its appearance and in the functions that it performs. The event that changed his life occurred ten years ago.
Alex was a freelancer, accepting various orders as a hacker. A Russian casino hired him to correct the operation of slot machines so that they would give out not as much as 90% of the player’s funds, but 50%. These were the Austrian slot machines manufactured by Novomatic. In these machines, Alex encountered the first serious pseudo-random number generator (PRNG), the algorithm he was able to decipher.
He said that PRNG controls the operation of gaming machines, creating the effect that everything happens by chance, and the person will never unravel the sequences. But Alex allegedly deciphered the algorithm of the PRNG in the Novomatic machines and got control over them. He understood, at what moments the slot machine gives out a jackpot and what moments doesn’t. Later he used this knowledge to automate the process of making profits from slot machines.
After the banning of the casino industry in Russia, resulting in a massive sell-off of gaming equipment, he managed to purchase for testing another brand of the machine Aristocrat Mark VI – more than 100,000 all over the world. He studied their work and the theory of PRNG.
As a result, casino hacker created the application and developed an interactive system in which any person can deceive the machine with no skills in programming and combinatorics. Four of his agents (mules) was robbing slot machines around the world. They earned $250,000 a week, and 90% of the profits took Alex, who has operated the scheme from St. Petersburg, Russia.
Alex says that his activities do not violate any Russian laws. He’s just the one who won the battle between greedy casinos and ordinary people. Manufacturers of slot machines help casino owners to get rich; I work to get rich myself. He calls himself a small counterweight to the constantly winning casino industry. At the same time, he knows that his system is considered illegal in some countries. In 2014, four of his agents (mules) were charged and convicted in the U.S. for the deception of the casino.
After this incident, casino hacker decided to complete his profitable business, but with the maximum benefit. He wrote to the company-manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure, state that he cracked their generators of pseudo-random numbers and for a long time robbed their slot machines. He proposed the deal: the hacker ceases to conduct compromising activities, possibly even helps to eliminate the vulnerability of the system in exchange for ransom. The amount in his letter was eight figures. He attached to the email mathematical evidence of hacking.
In the conversation, Alex noted that robbing slot machines are no longer convenient, in some countries it is illegal, so it is more profitable for him to get a ransom and retire. Nevertheless, in case of refusal, he promised to bury the business of Aristocrat Leisure: to give the secret to competitors or make it available to the public. He was talking not just about the old versions Mark VI, but also about new versions of slot machines.
The manufacturer refused to pay the ransom to the hacker, citing the fact that the algorithms of their machines are reliable. Representatives of the company advised the owners to upgrade the equipment to the latest versions; they allegedly are not susceptible to hacking. Also, it is not excluded that Alex is a just fraudster, and he only invented the whole story with the hacking of slot machines for the sake of getting the ransom.
The Wired journalists turned for consultation to David Ackley, the professor of computer science at the University of New Mexico. He found in PRNG known constants: for example, the Pi number or the base of the natural logarithm. He also suggested that the casino hacker code is based on chunks from different PRNG available in the public source. And here are two options: either software developers for machines and certifying companies are working very poorly, or Alex did not crack anything but just expects to intimidate the manufacturer.
Now it remains to wait when he published his algorithm online. Then it will be found out whether it is seriously possible to beat the casino with its help.