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websites for Las Vegas Sands properties remain down, hacking investigation continues

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Websites for casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. remained down for a fourth day on Friday, while company, state and federal investigators trace the origin and effect of a hacking intrusion.

The Internet sites of Sands properties including the flagship Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and its Pennsylvania, Singapore and Macau resorts remained inoperative, and company spokesman Ron Reese said officials were assessing which systems had been affected.

Sands took down websites for its properties on Tuesday morning, leaving a website-maintenance message and a checkerboard photo display of resort names and phone numbers for bookings and reservations.

Officials said the culprits remained unknown, and the U.S. Secret Service, FBI and Nevada casino regulators were among agencies investigating. The Secret Service is charged with safeguarding the country's financial systems.

Social Security information for Sands employees in Bethlehem, Pa., was posted at one point on company sites. The hacking disrupted Sands email accounts and hampered access to company work computers.

Nevada State Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said Friday there was no new information to make public. He has said it wasn't clear if patron data including credit-card information had been compromised.

The first sign of trouble came Monday morning, when email malfunctioned.

By Tuesday morning, hackers posted a map with flames marking Sands casino locations, a photo of Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson posing with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a message condemning the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Adelson is an outspoken supporter of Israel and a generous donor to U.S. Republican Party campaigns. He spoke in October about dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran, saying strength was the only thing the country understands.

The hackers at one point referred to themselves as "Anti WMD Team."

Sands employs about 5,000 people at its various properties.

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