HOW TO PREVENT ONLINE GAMBLING CASINOS HACKING – A DETAILED GUIDE
The internet brought with it many things and disrupted many industries. Today, some of the most profitable and upwardly mobile businesses are online establishments with millions of customers around the world. Think of big companies like Amazon, Google, Bet365, and the rest; they all make their money on the internet.
Of course, this fact was not lost on big gambling entities as well, as they are very much part of this online economy moving billions of dollars each day. By 2022, the online gambling and casino industry is expected to hit and possibly surpass the 100-billion-dollar mark. At the same time, gambling sites are constantly introducing new products and moving into new markets where online gambling is allowed.
Naturally, online businesses also attract a different kind of audience- those who want to hack and steal or destroy enterprises for money or, in some cases, just for “lols.” Online gambling casinos hacking is always been a target for hackers activities because of the money involved.
Gamblers signing up for an account on any online casino, poker, sports betting sites need to be aware of this and take steps to at least protect their data. In most cases, you can gamble securely with a VPN, a fact that will be discussed in greater detail later.
There are two ways hackers attack online gambling sites; they can decide to target the gambling platform-which is harder and requires more planning and resources- or they could choose the easier route and target you, the online gambler.
HOW HACKERS TARGET ONLINE GAMBLING CASINOS AND GAMING SITES – WITH EXAMPLES
Sometime in 2019, there were reports of coordinated cyber-attacks against Online gambling casinos emanating from China and other cybercrime hotspots like Russia and Eastern Europe. In China, a group going by the name DRB-Control managed to infiltrate and download source code from several gambling platforms across the world. It wasn’t clear what their intentions were since they only went after the source code, but there are theories suggesting future heists as a result of these breaches.
A more recent example of online gambling casinos hacking, involved one of the better-known gambling websites in Curacao by the name BetUS-serving mostly US customers. Around March of 2020, it was reported that a notorious cryptoransomware hacking group called Maze managed to breach among other targets, BetUS’s network, and steal large amounts of data including source code, internal documents and most likely, customer information.
Last year, the Verge reported on yet another hacking spree targeting and ultimately gaining access to core networks belonging to 2,500 odd online gambling casinos across the world. In this particular attack, it was users who experienced the attack first with some reporting strange behavior such as pop op windows and malicious links.
Worryingly, it was later confirmed that hackers had managed to breach the Gaming Professional Webmaster’s Association (GPWA), which also ran a certification service for thousands of gambling websites across the world, including popular ones such as pokerlistings.com. In the case, it’s the users that were being targeted and redirected to phishing websites that later infected their computers with malware.
While the attack was detected and neutralized in good time, this goes to show just how important it is for users and gambling companies to prioritize their security given the unwanted attention they get from the wrong quarters.
HACKING METHODS USED AGAINST ONLINE GAMBLERS AND GAMING PLATFORMS TODAY
Here are some of the methods hackers are employing to target online gambling websites on a day to day basis as seen from hacking incidents in the past:
It’s common for hackers to inject their malicious ads into an otherwise safe gambling platform. Malicious advertisements are hard to detect and remove because they appear to sell legitimate services. In most cases, a gambling entity or its affiliates will never know that they are hosting malicious adverts on their platform until they get complaints from their customers or hosting companies.
In some instances- such as the GPWA case discussed earlier- the hackers use malicious scripts to perform sophisticated ad injection attacks where users trying to access a gambling website will instead be redirected to a malicious advertisement or pop-up window.
Preventing AD Injection Attacks
DDoS attacks have been around for ages and also evolved quite a bit. While DDosers (hackers who use DDoS attacks) mainly used them to bring down websites, today’s DDoS attacks can be used to steal and compromise entire gambling platforms. For instance, there have been reports in the recent past where hackers used good old DDoS attacks to bring down gambling platforms and redirect customers to other websites where personal information was siphoned from victims.
SQL Injection Attacks
This type of attack is less common as new database security technologies come into the market. However, there are gambling websites out there that still use old data storage solutions that are susceptible to SQL injection attacks. SQL injection attacks have been used in the past to target small and medium-sized gambling platforms to steal and sell customer information in the dark market.
PREVENTING SQL INJECTION ATTACKS-
For end users like you, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to defend yourself against this type of attack as they are generally successful as a result of a platform’s vulnerabilities. However, there are ways you can use to mitigate them, such as using different login credentials across websites and using a password management tool. More importantly, you should occasionally change your passwords and check if your details have been leaked online using HaveIbeenpwned.com.
Gambling websites should ensure that user input is correctly validated and filtered across their platform to prevent SQL injection attacks. Additionally, it’s important to encrypt sensitive customer information on your databases in case hackers get to it. Simple and straightforward as it sounds, a majority of data breaches in the recent past were as a result of unencrypted databases.
In its various forms, social engineering is, by far, one of the most common attack methods used to target those who make a living through online gambling as well as privileged employees working for profitable gambling entities. Social engineering has been used for years and also evolved to accommodate new technologies such as social media and e-commerce. Mainly, social engineering involves using mental tricks, impersonation, and straight lies to convince a victim to give information that will be used to access and steal their data or money.
FOR ONLINE GAMBLING, SOCIAL ENGINEERING HAS BEEN PROVEN TO TAKE THE FOLLOWING FORMS:
Hackers will often target active gamblers in their place of work, coffee shops, and homes by leaving infected storage media such as flash disks in their vicinity. Unwittingly, victims will insert the storage media into their computers and get infected. This method is becoming rarer as users move to virtual storage, but it’s still being used in some countries.
PREVENTING BAITING ATTACKS–
Never use any foreign storage media on a computer that you also use to access your gambling accounts or any other computer for that matter. Be on the lookout for unattended or unidentifiable storage media connected to your computer should you use it in a public place such as a café.
Here, a hacker will create an email address that appears as if it belongs to a genuine gambling website. For instance, they will create a false support email address and use it to target gamblers who may or may not have an account with the company they are impersonating. Typically, phishing emails will contain an alert asking users to share their login details for some kind of support issue that needs to be handled urgently. Alternatively, the phishing email would contain a link going to an infected website made to look like a legitimate gambling website.
PREVENTING PHISHING ATTACKS-
Double check that the email address sending you emails is legitimate by comparing it with other support emails you have received from your gambling provider in the past. More importantly, never open or bother responding to unsolicited support emails asking for your details or login information. Hackers engaging in social engineering can be persistent and certainly know how to get information out of their victims, especially if they show a hint of interest by opening or responding to unsolicited support emails.
PHONE SCAMMING AND PRETEXTING-
Phone scamming is particularly effective and, therefore, more common. There are entire phone scamming companies with hundreds of employees in scamming hotspots like India and West Africa. Here, scammers will use various methods to collect telephone numbers belonging to gamblers and call them pretending to be support staff or investigators. They will then convince their victims to either divulge personal information or let them control their computers using remote access tools.
PREVENTING PHONE SCAMS AND PRETEXTING–
Never divulge personal information to anonymous callers or anyone for that matter. Most gambling websites rarely bother to call their clients on an individual basis. If they do, they will never ask for personal information or request privileged access to your computer.
SOCIAL MEDIA ENGINEERING–
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have provided yet another social engineering avenue for criminals targeting those engaged in online gambling. By far, the most common type of social engineering involves anonymous accounts purporting to have inside information about various events in sports. Somehow, these criminals can take advantage of targeted social media ad platforms to get to as many high-value gambling targets as possible and convince them to pay for fake insider information.
PREVENTING SOCIAL MEDIA ENGINEERING ATTACKS–
Avoiding contacting or interacting with social media accounts pretending to have privileged information that could make you money while gambling. Trading insider information and match-fixing is not only illegal but also one of the easiest ways to lose your money to scammers and cons on social media.
Cross-site scripting (XSS)
XSS attacks take many forms depending on the intent and vulnerabilities being exploited. Common XSS attacks that have been used against gambling websites in the past include stored and reflected attacks.
Stored attacks are more dangerous because they are normally stored in a trusted gambling website’s server, and they attack every customer that accesses it. Reflected attacks, on the other hand, emanate from external sources such as social media, phishing emails, and malicious pop-up adverts. Nevertheless, XSS attacks can be effective at infecting your computer or stealing personal information.
PREVENTING XSS ATTACKS–
If you access gambling websites regularly, it’s advisable to assume that the site you are visiting could be infected and protect yourself. Therefore, you should always use a VPN to access these websites and use an antivirus tool that also comes with internet security.
Brute force attacks
Some hackers may take the harder route to gain access to your account by repeatedly probing it with different password/username combinations until they get in. More experienced hackers use bots for brute force attacks, while inexperienced ones do it manually. However, brute force attacks are becoming rare and less effective as websites introduce stringent authentication rules and mechanisms such as two-factor authentication and Captcha tools.
PREVENTING BRUTE FORCE ATTACKS–
Use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication if it’s available on your gambling platform of choice and change your passwords regularly
Hack attacks targeting online gamblers and gambling platforms aren’t going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, they will always come up with new attack methods. Therefore, you should take your online security seriously every time you want to access your gambling account or any other website where you are required to log in. Stay safe!