Cybersecurity: A Growing Focus for Gambling Operators

If you have information that can be used by others to their advantage, it could well be stolen. It is that simple! This is truly an era of destruction. Technology innovation, the escalating march of digitization, and the snowballing impact of the “big exponentials” have brought about excessive risk in the use of the internet. The success of cyber criminals in obtaining gamers financial data at a number of big casinos across the world has led to an increased focus by gaming regulators of cyber security risks.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is one of the big casinos to be hit with this cybercriminal epidemic. Last year, the company launched an investigation after receiving several reports of fraudulent activities associated with their payment cards. According to the findings, signs of unauthorized access to the casino’s payment cards were identified. Any client who used their cards at the casino, retail outlet, or any restaurant within the avenue may have been affected. The Notice of Data Breach reported that hackers had placed unauthorized POS (point of sale) and malware that allowed access to users’ information.

In October last year, the world witnessed the most powerful Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in cyber history. This attack brought down some of the biggest online platforms such as CNN, Reddit, Netflix, the Guardian, Twitter, and many online gambling sites. What made this attack so powerful is that the system was largely made up of the so-called “internet things” (IoT) which are used by devices such as DVR players and digital cameras. This attacked alarmed many gambling operators in United States, Canada, and European countries.

Such gambling operators are well aware of how attractive the gambling market has become and how cyber criminals could benefit from this lucrative industry. There are several ways through which cyber criminals attack gamers including:

  • Cyberbullying—part of the fun in online gaming is competitiveness between gamers. But, there is a huge difference between inoffensive competition and cyberbullying. Beware of “trolls” who may take advantage of the gaming platform to put you down.
  • Gold-farming—some cyber criminals use botnets to create in-game assets such as “germs,” “coins,” or “gold.” Such assets are used to sell to other players, normally at a discount. Cybercriminals normally ask for your credit card information or may direct you to a third-party website for you to make your payment there. Never but in-game assets!
  • Phishing—this happens when cybercriminals try to trick you into giving your personal information. They may do so trying to convince you that they are legitimate or they can help you level up faster of help you get more game currency.
  • Hacking—for many gamers, chatting with other gamers is fun, but be wary who you are talking to—some strangers come with risks. Cyber criminals will trick you into giving them your personal information which they may use to hack into your account. Stick to talking about the game and never your personal information.

There are two lines of thoughts with online gaming and cybercrime. One is that these connected platforms offer easier breaks to attack, compromise, and steal data. And two is that these gaming sites are accessible through the internet—and are therefore a breeding ground for cybercrime. Operators are understanding these lines of thoughts and are working towards strengthening these platforms with security software and robust encryptions to make it near-impossible for hackers to break in. For example, gaming giants Playtech recently entered into a partnership with Featurespace to fortify its security.