By Solsiree McGowan, Director of Product Compliance at Scientific Games*
Personal data is the number one target for most of Internet hackers. They are constantly looking for creative ways to steal information so that they can profit by selling it on the dark web. This is a problem that we all face when we play in the iGaming space, or when we use any other online service or platform where we are required to provide personal date or create an account. This means that potential intruders or ‘hackers,’ as they are commonly called, have the ability to spoof a player’s identity, access his/her account, or even send customized malware to achieve their goal. And while this is a concern for each one of us, this does not mean that we need to avoid using these platforms. It just means that we must implement the proper measures to prevent compromising our information.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYER’S PRIVACY
Today, player’s data has great value. Many marketing companies are looking for ways to obtain user’s information to make it profitable. They can include uses in spam lists, targeted advertising or even sell that information to third parties. Therefore, it is vital to ensure the player’s information is kept safe and avoid data leaks at all levels. The information can be compromised in a wide variety of ways, such as attacks with malware, theft of public information that has been exposed, leaks in the online platform, etc. Let’s just take a look on some of these situations where we are in danger, and learn about best options to secure our data.
a) Posting Personal Data in Forums and Public Pages
It is not uncommon to encounter forums and online platforms where players exchange information on a regular basis. Sometimes, players use them as means to learn the game and exchange opinions about it. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes and the easiest way for hackers to access this data. This also applies when players are required to register to use those sites. This is usually the case with any registration on the Internet, where it is normal to put personal data and related information in to create the account. This means that it is possible that the information entered becomes vulnerable as there is no way to know who could be there and for what purposes they could use this data, such as identity theft or even creating targeted malware such as personalized Phishing.
b) Hacking of Gaming Accounts
One of the most significant concerns that online players face is the privacy of the data collected to open a gaming account. One especially sensitive target in these iGaming platforms is the financial data that is stored for each player in their accounts. But how do hackers steal that information? Well, methods can be very diverse and creative. We are talking about, for example, Phishing attacks that can come through various means, such as emails, ransomware, the sending of Trojans through patches or add-on software that may be advertised to users. Another way is by stealing the online platform databases and obtaining not only the info from one player, but from all players who had created an account. This was the case in major known cyber-attacks such as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos back in 2015, and the casino operator Federal Group in Tasmania, earlier this year. Something basic that we must consider is that downloading software for games must be from official and safe sources. Sometimes, accessing third-party pages may represent the possibility to download software that has been maliciously modified to put all personal data at risk.
c) Keep Equipment and Software Up to Date
Of course, software needs to be updated safely and correctly. Sometimes, vulnerabilities emerge that can be exploited by hackers to carry out their attacks. They can use those flaws to deliver malware or steal information. These risks can be mitigated and sometimes avoided with the proper installation of the patches and security updates that come out. This is something that must be applied to mobile devices, computers, or gaming consoles. Updates need to be searched for frequently and installed as soon they become available. This way, you will always have the latest security patches installed.
d) Security and Privacy Settings
Like any other platform that we use, games have a series of configuration settings that can be modified. Some of those configuration options are related to security and privacy. It is important that we dedicate some time to them since some parameters can be changed to allow us to increase the reliability when playing online. By changing these options, we have the possibility to configure different security factors as well as those for privacy. For example, preventing third parties from accessing the content of the account, or in cases where the account is linked to different services and platforms outside the game, to ensure that the data cannot be shared amongst other online platforms that may be associated to the online gaming provider.
e) Security Tools
Security programs and tools cannot be lacking. Having a good antivirus and other security tools is essential to prevent these threats. It is important to have a firewall that protects the system from possible intruders who want to access it. There are different types of malware such as keyloggers that can steal passwords and personal information. It is vital to have security software in place to prevent this.
f) Malicious Websites and Platforms
Some users may encounter websites and platforms with very different online games. Not all these services are legitimate and not all the content they host is secure. There are for sure several fraudulent links, malicious file downloads, different types of malware that could potentially be used for cyber-attack purposes. These threats can put the proper functioning of our equipment at risk. It does not matter if we are going to play online from the mobile, computer or console. It is relevant to consider all the risks factors to avoid problems that affect the performance of our equipment and the integrity of the overall system.
g) Common Sense and Cybersecurity Education
Last but perhaps most important, common sense and education on the matters of cybersecurity are needed. Many types of attacks are carried out by user interaction. For example, downloading malicious content or clicking on links that may be a problem. Therefore, common sense and understanding the fundamentals on how to protect yourself and your data is central.
*Solsiree McGowan was born and raised in the small town of La Chorrera, west of Panama City. Since childhood, she always had goals and a clear objective of becoming a successful executive, so she graduated from Industrial Engineering and decided to migrate to the United States to study and learn English. While living in New Jersey, she met her husband and began her career at Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) as a Quality Control Engineer, supporting accreditations to the company’s ISO standards.
She then transitioned to the Compliance department, and ended up managing the U.S. Western Region, which brought with it her relocation to the city of Las Vegas, where she currently resides.
In 2020, Solsiree accepted the offer to be Director of Product Compliance for the large slot manufacturer Scientific Games. Currently, she works there with an excellent team of professionals that provides services around the globe.