Crime / General

Hacker crashes Sunday lottery countrywide

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

On Sunday, lottery buyers throughout the country, except for only two locations in Belize City, were unable to contract their favourite numbers for that morning’s draw because someone hacked into the computer system which controls the printing of lottery tickets, shutting down the entire system.

Karil Wallace, public relations officer for Brads, (Kim Jen Chee), which administrates the lottery explained to the Reporter that the “system was the victim of a malicious attack, and in the process, our print script was removed. As a result, tickets were not able to be printed.”

Wallace added that the incident was one that they could not have predicted, and added that Brads had to resort to using computers backup test computers, since those machines were not affected by the hack. This limited lottery sales to only Brads’ Vernon Street and Farmer’s Market outlets.

“We have put in place upgraded firewalls and setting up new sites that can be referred to in the event of such…It was totally out of our control, and we worked tirelessly to have the system restored as quick as possible in order for the sale tickets to be resumed,” Wallace continued.

Those ticket sales were back up for Monday night’s boledo draw, after the company installed different programs to get back on stream. It is also now building more sites to avert a similar impact if a site may go down due to malicious acts.

Wallace could not answer our questions as to how exactly the system was breached, since their technicians are still trying to trace it, nor could he comment on any ballpark figure of the losses in revenue to Chee for that day.

Going by boledo and lottery trends, however, the single winning number that was drawn at the Public Building on Sunday (70) is one that quite a number of boledo and lottery patrons contract. Wallace apologizes to their patrons for the inconvenience. Wallace has said that the incident has created a backlash from patrons who could not contract their favourite numbers for that day.

Notably, Brads also administers the Fantasy 5 and Pick 3 draws, but Wallace assures that those franchises are hosted on entirely different systems from the boledo and lottery system.

The boledo and lottery sales were outsourced to Brads in 2009 when the government concluded that it could realize a more significant revenue from those sales if there was a standardized ticket system. Brads introduced the ticket system two years later in 2011 and since then, the government revenues from boledo and lottery sales have increased from $.9 million to $2 million. Prior to the ticket system, there was also the sale of tickets by way of boledo and lottery books that were also used to sell illegal lottery when vendors used the space on the back of those sheets contained therein to illegally sell handwritten boledo and lottery numbers.

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