Online casino security – In the last ten to fifteen years, the number of activities and entertainment available online has exploded.
You can do nearly everything online, and so can gambling. In fact, the gaming industry has been one of the first to embrace digital technology and the internet to bring video slots, table games, and sports betting from land-based venues into the digital realm. But with this shift, a whole set of new issues arose. Both for companies and the customers they serve.
At online casinos, players want to know that their personal data (such as the verification documents they submitted and their banking info) is secure. But also, it is very important that the casino offers safe, fair, and non-rigged games.
So, how does it all work? How do casinos and regulators protect players? And how can you make sure that the venue you’ve selected to play at is legit and fair and not one of those dreaded rouge casinos?
Luckily, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide on this topic. Once you’ve taken a look, you’ll be one of those savvy gamblers that know what’s what when it comes to security in iGaming.
The Most Common Types of Cyberattacks in Casinos
As with any other online business, online casinos and sports betting sites can also become victims of various types of cyberattacks.
There are really no rules as to who can become a target. A small-time operator registered in Curacao can be as easily targeted as one of the big names that have millions in capital behind them.
But why target online casinos in the first place? Simply put, money. There’s a lot of transactions in a typical iGaming environment. Additionally, casinos also have the personal information of their players, which can be used for identity theft. All of these are enticing targets for both solitary hackers and online criminal enterprises.
Because there are so many types of attacks that can impact casino safety and security, and the fact that they come from literally anywhere (after all, the Internet is a global platform), it’s good to be acquainted with the different types.
DDOS stands for distributed denial of service and is one of the oldest types of cyberattacks. But it shouldn’t be discounted just because it’s old-school. In a DDOS attack, the attacker uses a network of computers to connect to a single site at the same time. These connection requests overwhelm the servers, slowing the site down and eventually crashing it.
Another attack vector is as old as the Internet itself. Ports are essentially “openings” that various services running on a server use to communicate. Many of these ports being open is necessary for a site to function normally. Others are better to keep closed.
Vulnerability to these attacks comes most often from the improper configuration. When someone launches a new site, many of the services will begin with open ports and default passwords. If they don’t change it, it is easy for a hacker to gain access. Even so-called “root access” which allows for total control.
If a hacker gets this, they can essentially ransack the servers for any kind of data they wish to steal and then use or sell for nefarious purposes.
Now we get to the more sophisticated and high-tech attacks. An attack so devastating that is the stuff of nightmares for every security administrator. Therefore, you should not underestimate that. Government institutions as well as Fortune 500 companies have been victims in the past.
And so has SBTech, in March of 2020, when a ransomware attack disabled their platform for an entire week. Reportedly, this attack cost the company around $30 million.
How does it work? An attacker gets a program onto the computer or network by any means that then runs an encryption program. Once the files get encrypted, it’s not possible to access them. It’s like someone putting new locks on your house and then charging you to take them off.
Attackers then demand payment in cryptocurrency to unlock the files.
Arguably the most dangerous of all attacks because it targets the human factor. Attackers can try to impersonate bosses and superiors to try to get people to reveal their passwords and other sensitive info.
And it doesn’t have to happen purely online.
This kind of attack can take the form of leaving USB sticks or other infected hardware in an office, hoping that someone might use it and infect work computers.
Some hackers have even used very low-tech methods such as simple tailgating, that is, simply passing behind an authorized person as they open the door in order to gain access to areas they shouldn’t have access to.
Phishing and Spoofing
Somewhat connected to social engineering, phishing is a very sophisticated type of attack in which a hacker spoofs emails or other forms of communication as coming from a trusted source.
For instance, a casino player may receive a message that looks like it comes from his favorite online venue. The email could offer a special welcome bonus if only the payer follows a link and inputs their credentials into a fake site. These fakes can look very convincing.
These spoofs may target casino employees into revealing sensitive and confidential data such as work computers and network passwords.
Where Do Safety Threats Come From?
In a single sentence — from everywhere. The Internet is a global network. So geographically, anyone anywhere may attack your casino. It just goes to show how important online casino security is.
But there are certain types of organizations that are known to conduct cyberattacks on various targets that can include online casinos or sportsbook betting sites.
Most of these attacks motivated by profit will come from organized crime networks as they are the ones with access to the necessary tools and infrastructure to pull them off. The iGaming industry, at least so far, hasn’t been of much interest to politically-motivated hacker groups.
Instead, those who target the iGaming industry do so in order to get money. Either through ransomware or through the theft of sensitive player data, which someone can then sell or use for further crimes.
Of course, there is another kind of safety threat in the iGaming world, and that is a lack of regulatory compliance and player protection. Licensed casinos, as part of their certification process, must also follow the rules on data and privacy protection.
Nevertheless, it is important for both online casinos and their players to always keeps security in mind.
5 Safety Features That Casinos Use to Protect Their Customers
In order to protect themselves and their players’ operators of online games of chance have adopted certain best practices to minimize the chance of cyberattacks, data leaks, and other unwanted security events that have the potential to cause harm to the players and the business itself.
Using secure technology
One of the best ways to protect themselves and their players is for casinos to use online casino security technology. As hackers modify and advance their strategies, so do security companies come up with new countermeasures.
Cloudflare is one of the services that can protect from DDOS attacks, while CAPTCHA technologies can also help against both DDOS and spam. Databases that can be vulnerable to so-called “SQL Injections” can be safeguarded by encryption.
Training their staff
When it comes to social engineering and phishing attacks, nothing beats educating the casino staff on how to recognize these attack attempts and properly deal with them. This protects both the company and the players.
Keeping all the software up to date
It may even seem like a silly thing to bring up, but regular updates of all software that is used is paramount for security. Oftentimes attackers rely on exploits and vulnerabilities that exist in older versions of software and that the manufacturer has already patched.
One of the biggest ransomware attacks in the world, the WannaCry attack in 2017 that ended up costing the affected companies more than $4 billion, could have been prevented if they had updated their systems, as the attack relied on an old exploit that was patched.
Getting the basics of protection right: HTTPS, SSL, TSL, Firewalls
HTTPS, SSL, TSL. These are the acronyms that every security administration must know about. And they are also the very basis of cyber-security. HTTPS is the secure version of the HTTP protocol, which is the main way web browsers and websites send data. If you secure this traffic with encryption, then people who want to snoop on the network cannot see what the browser and the site send to each other.
You will know you are connected via HTTPS, as all modern browsers display a lock icon next to the site’s address when they use this type of connection.
TSL (Transport Layer Security) is a common but very safe data encryption method. Major banks use it to make online transactions secure.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is another encryption protocol used to establish a safe connection. You protect this way the sensitive information on the casino’s server. Even in the event that somebody gains access, without the right decryption key, the data is useless.
Conducting penetration testing
This option is both expensive and a bit drastic, but better safe than sorry. In a penetration test, an operator pays a cybersecurity company to conduct a test of their online casino security.
The company then proceeds to “simulate” a cyberattack using the same methods as a real attacked would. Afterward, they present their findings and the client can then patch up their security.
What is eCogra and What is its Role in the Gambling Industry?
Attacks by bad actors are one part of the casino cybersecurity equation. The other part is the validity and fairness of the games themselves. And as well the casino’s behavior and reputation.
In the early days of online iGaming, thanks to the actions of certain chancers, the entire field was in danger of getting a really bad reputation.
Reports of casinos with rigged games, without any licensing whatsoever, flooded online message boards where punters gathered to discuss their favorite pastime. What’s worse, there were even some outright scammer online betting venues that would simply not pay out winnings.
These days, however, the landscape is much different. This is thanks to laws and regulations and also to eCOGRA (eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance).
In 2002, this independent industry standards body was formed by 888 (a publicly traded casino operator) and Microgaming (a well-known software and game manufacturer) and since then, it has awarded its Seal of Approval to operators that meet its standards in casino cybersecurity and other matters.
It guarantees that the operator meets the standards in security of information storage, that their random number generators are fair, that they process payments timely, and act responsibly in general. In order to keep their good standing, casinos must agree to regular audits by their part companies.
The eCOGRA also has a dispute mediation department that helps players with issues they couldn’t resolve through regular support channels.
Overall, an online casino that has an eCOGRA seal has dedicated itself to being safe, secure, and fair. Any venue with this seal is always a good choice for players.
How Do Casinos and Regulators Protect the Fairness of Their Games?
To really understand what it means for an online game of chance, whether it’s a video slot or a table game, to be “fair” we need to first understand Random Number Generators (RNGs).
Simply put, it’s a program that generates a random number. These programs are what’s behind a game like an online video slot or a table game. In real life, for instance, the outcome of a roulette round depends on the physical interaction of the wheel and the ball. But obviously, you cannot replicate it on a website.
Similarly, the outcome in early slot games (so-called “fruit machines”) depended on mechanical reels spinning.
Today, however, all electronic games of chance depend on RNGs.
But how to know whether the RNG is truly fair or not? Is online gambling safe? How can you know this as a casino fan or punter?
The Role of Regulators in Safe Gambling
Any online venue that has a reputable online casino license will have to have gone through a process in which they will check the fairness of their website. Regulators also prescribe Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering procedures as well as set standards on deadlines for payouts of winnings.
There are also independent organizations that check this, such as the already mentioned eCOGRA or the Canada-based TST (Technical Systems Testing), a company that provides auditing services and compliance testing.
In some jurisdictions, online betting establishments will have to publish the RTPs of their slots. This is another layer of security for players, as they can know exactly what to expect from a game. RTP stands for “return to player,” it is a percentage calculated based on a large number of spins (often in the millions) and tells the player how much of the money they put into a slot will go back to them. Typical RTPs on modern video slots are from 94% to 97%.
The important thing to know is that operators who have licenses and, even better, an eCOGRA certificate are safe to play at, regularly audited, and fair. In the modern age, with increased regulation and with punters sharing their experience online, the number of unlicensed, unfair, and plain illegally operating casinos has begun to drop.
What Are Rogue Casinos and How to Identify Them
Nevertheless, there will always be scammers and those trying to make a quick buck by exploiting others.
This is why it is important to know to recognize what a so-called “rogue casino” looks like so that you can safely avoid it.
While the term is mostly linked to those operators that refuse to pay out winnings, any place that changes the RTPs or their games without notice, that has rigged games, engages in false advertising, and is generally not transparent can be considered a rogue casino.
We will now go over the main signs that the casino you’re eyeing may not be legit.
They Don’t Pay Out
While withdrawals at a venue may not always be instantaneous, sometimes due to the payment provider used, you should generally expect that payments should not take more than 30 days. If you don’t receive your money after this time, that’s a rogue casino. Especially if when you contact the casino support, they start claiming that you haven’t fulfilled some hitherto undisclosed “obligations.” Sadly, there’s little you can do once this happens. Use it as a lesson.
They Don’t Display Any Licenses
This is the main red flag. Any place that is licenses will show it. Why wouldn’t they? Reputable licenses come from places such as the United Kingdom, Malta, Gibraltar, Sweden, Curacao, and some others. Note that even if a site does have a badge showing the license, these can also be fake. The badge should be clickable and it should lead you the regulator’s site that will display if it is valid.
They Have Poor Security
Remember HTTPS? If there’s no lock next to the address, that’s a thing to be concerned about. The same goes for SSL and TSL. Most web browsers, however, will alert you when you are not visiting a secure site. Heed the warning as a lack of these things has negative implications for online casino security.
They Give Offers that are too Good to be True
Thousands of euros in bonus money, 1000 free spins, 700% deposit match? If it sounds too good to be true… you know the drill. Notice that often these “amazing” welcome bonuses will have dozens upon dozens of “conditions” you need to fulfil before you can use them. Or, you may not even receive the bonus at all once you deposit.
They Have Bad Reviews
Arguably the best way to get a read on an online casino is to check reviews. There are many sites online that are dedicated to reviewing online venues for gambling and weeding out the bad ones. In addition to these “professional” reviews you can also find places where real players share their experiences with various sites and brands. These are invaluable when it comes to getting real first-hand info. Use the reviews as your guide to avoid scammers and bad actors.
How do I know if my casino is safe and fair?
The best way to know a venue is safe is to check its licensing status and look for online reviews. A proper online casino or sports betting site is: licensed by a reputable regulatory body (UK, Malta, etc.), has fair games, pays out winnings on time, keeps your data safe, and takes online casino security seriously.
What measures do casinos take to improve security?
While there are many measures an operator can take to increase casino cybersecurity, they all boil down to using secure tech and being regularly audited by regulatory bodies. Look for those brands that are licensed by reputable regulators to make sure your play will be safe.
How do casinos get their licenses?
To get their license from any reputable regulatory body (such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gaming Commission), operators will have to submit to regulatory checks, software audits, and other checks aimed at making sure they are respecting laws and regulations.