Online gambling players are subject to constant attack from fraudsters. Here are some steps to take in order to be safer.
Any online gamer knows that enjoying a friendly poker game at a variety of online poker sites in the United States is not 100% safe. Hackers and fraudsters are always after personal info and data, not to mention plain old money.
An industry expert, Brian Corlisse, has been recently quoted by American gambling news
saying: “With cybercrime on the rise, it is only a matter of time before hackers attempt to use malicious software to target poker players. Some poker pros have considerable balances in their poker accounts, sometimes with hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that makes it an attractive industry to target.”
Charles Kolodgy, Vice president of research for Secure Products at IDC, premier global provider of market intelligence, agrees and says: “Stopping someone from hijacking your computer boils down to software and common sense.”
While renowned poker sites are investing heavily in security, ensuring their players are safe, no one can guarantee total safety from online attacks. It’s up to the players themselves to exercise safe practices. Especially now, that the American gambling laws have been altered to allow online poker in three states, questions of security are paramount.
Here are some easy steps online poker players can take to protect themselves against cyber attacks and subsequent loss of funds and personal data.
1. Anti-virus suits and software updates
Basic anti-virus software that usually comes with a new PC or is downloaded for free, often isn’t enough. It’s advised to go for a more comprehensive suits, including anti-malware programs, which span protection from Trojans, viruses, worms, spam, key-loggers, identity theft, and other fraudulent programs and activities.
• Enjoying games at online poker sites in the US is not always safe
• Steps to protect yourself when playing online poker
• Players themselves need to exercise caution
Kolodgy comments: “Especially for online poker players, a security suite — which includes a firewall — will help prevent someone from getting onto your machine.” Good anti-virus suits start at $50 a year, but they are really worth the money, when it comes to protecting your online accounts and information.
Compared to free software, these paid programs are updated on a regular basis, ensuring protection from the latest malicious programs. Most of them can be updated automatically, without the need to trouble players for constant involvement.
Updating your operating system components is also paramount. Make sure your Java, Adobe and other programs are always up-to-date.
2. Complicated passwords
It might sound obvious, but strong passwords are very much needed when it comes to protection from fraudsters. Amazingly, there are still some online players who forget or don’t care about this simple rule. Moreover, coming up with a good password isn’t hard.
Combining numbers, letters, symbols, upper and lower case is obviously advised, while using your name, date of birth, or real words isn’t. Here’s what Charles Kolodgy had to say about the passwords for online poker sites: “And don’t think replacing a ‘1’ for an ‘i’ will protect you either, as good password cracking programs can also guess these.”
Multiple word passwords are harder to break than single-word ones. And of course passwords need to be updated regularly, and reusing them is not advised. On a related note, a separate email account for use with an online gambling place is recommended. It should be associated with your online account and nothing else.
3. Enable 2-step login authentication
Some major players of the online world including Twitter, Google, Facebook and others provide their member with an opportunity to use 2-step login process. Moreover, some of the biggest online poker sites do that too now. Make sure you opt for this feature. Not only does it elevate security, it also confirms you and only you as the sole user of an online poker account.
2-step authentication means that in addition to ordinary username/password combination, players will need to use a special code, provided either via text message or revealed in an application. Unless players complete both steps they will not be allowed to enter.
A number of online poker sites are now using small gadgets, randomly generating access codes. It’s function is to provide players with one-time-use code to utilize as the second step in login process.
4. Don’t gamble online as admin on your PC
This step is for advanced PC users. It provides extra security on top of all other measures. Playing online poker on PCs without administration rights ensures less malware programs can be installed on it. Kolodgy says: “That way, it makes it difficult for someone to secretly install a program on your PC while that session is on.”
Setting up a separate account on a PC is not that hard, but it’s advised to ask for help from someone who knows what they are doing. The security expert continues: “It’s not unlike enterprise companies who don’t give admin rights to employees, so they can’t purposely or inadvertently load software the company doesn’t want, and it helps prevent malicious code from running.”
Additionally, some software companies are in the process of creating “virtual machine” emulators. A custom-designed operating system can be booted from a USB or a CD and will divide your OS into two sections – for normal use and for online poker gambling. Naturally, the latter will only be used for this purpose and will not have access to anything else on the PC.
5. Don’t play on public Wi-Fi
Last, but not least, it’s not advisable to enjoy online poker while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. These networks are used by millions of devices and thus can have greater risks. Additionally fraudsters are now luring trusting people onto their own hotspots with seemingly legit names like “Starbucks” or “Marriott”. Once on a fake Wi-Fi network, your computer can be exposed to fraudulent activity easier.
Moreover, public Wi-Fi networks can be monitored, that is whatever you do: surf, play, chat, can be eavesdropped on. Using a virtual private network (VPN) is highly advised when there’s no other option but public Wi-Fi network.
Of course, opting to never use public Wi-Fi is much better. Now that the majority of wireless providers sell internet USB sticks for pennies, always having your private connection is a better choice, not to mention its convenience.