Technology is advancing everyday and as a result were spending more time than ever online. In the UK, for instance, research has found that the average person spends a whole day per week online. With the online world an integral part of daily life, cybersecurity is a must in the digital age, especially on websites and mobile apps that enable customers to pay for goods and services online.
The online gambling industry is a sector that knows the importance of cyber security all too well. They store a host of data, not to mention serve as a place where people can gamble and win large amounts of money. As a result, providers ramp up the security on their sites and in their apps to extremely high levels to protect their customers. Otherwise, they’d be a major target for hackers, who would have a field day if they were able to hack into the site.
We’ve outlined some of the most important safety tools and measures that online gambling sites use below to protect their sites and customers:
1. Web application firewalls
A standard feature when operating an online casino is a web application firewall. This works by filtering out any communication that is sent to the casino with a malicious intent and allows legitimate mail to pass through. This then protects websites against the threat of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. If successful, these types of attacks can paralyse a business. They work by flooding the website server with bots until it can’t cope and collapses under the strain, making the website unable to use. As many casinos rely on being available around the clock to their customers, these kinds of attacks are hugely damaging.
DDoS attacks also leave websites vulnerable for hackers to steal all kinds of information from the site, not to mention cause the owners the immense stress of being unable to trade or serve customers who visit the site, which can severely damage a casinos reputation too. In 2018, DDoS attacks increased by 37% which made preventing them a major priority for online casino providers going forwards, who need to stay online to prevent their customers to go elsewhere.
2. Data encryption
Online casinos are working with both personal data and financial data so need to take extra measures to protect it. Lots of transactions are taking place over the site and for a hacker to gain access to all the data would be disastrous. This is why casinos use data encryption, which stops others from reading and understanding the transactions. There are two types of data encryption that an operator may use:
End-to-end encryption – this scrambles data into complex codes that only the machine or the account of the intended recipient can resolve.
Secure sockets layer (SSL) – this is another common encryption method which many major banks use to add an extra layer of protection. It only allows people who have authorised access to view the information with a key. Unauthorised users won’t have access to the key and without it they can’t read the information.
3. Deposit restrictions
When you set up an account with an online casino, by default the casino will set a deposit restriction on the amount of money you can place with the casino or withdraw from the account. This is a measure that many online casinos adapt to protect their customers and ensure people are gambling responsibly. You can change this number to fit your needs, but casinos have designed it to protect their customers so you can set a maximum amount you’d like to spend to prevent people from spiralling into problem gambling.
4. Using a HTTPS secured format
By using a https format instead of a http URL, online gambling sites can offer their customers an added layer of protection against hackers. Https works by verifying sites as a registered business and monitoring domain validation. This helps to give customers added confidence in the site they’re using as it uses a secure sockets layer (known as an SSL) to transport information securely. An extra security benefit of this type of URL for both customers and the site is that it protects traffic on a mobile site too, which is increasingly important for gambling sites as many customers prefer to access games on the go. 888 is a great example of an elite online operator that has a verified https URL and an array of other excellent responsible gaming measures in place, so users can feel safe and secure playing their huge range of online casino games.
Hacking online casinos
As careful as online casinos and their betting site counterparts are when it comes to security, there are still some big-name brands that have fallen foul of the hackers.
In 2016, hackers left the bookmaking giant William Hill red-faced, with a DDoS attack that brought down the site for days and cost the company an estimated £3 million. They carried out the attack on Champions League night. Manchester City were set to play Barcelona and Arsenal were up against Ludogorets, but all furious customers and betting fans could do was watch the game or switch to a different online betting service provider while William Hill tried frantically to solve the problem.
William Hill isn’t the only operator to have had problems. Even in the world of ‘smart casinos’, which run on blockchain technology — reputed for being highly secure — hackers have been able to cause problems.
EOSBet and DEOS Games were both on the end of attacks in 2018. In the case of DEOS Games, the hacker had included some malicious code in its smart contract which allowed the hacker to win every time. The hacker chalked up 24 consecutive wins and won around $24 000.
The day before DEOS Games had become the victim of hacking, EOSBet had announced they’d had some trouble with hackers. A player had exploited a coding error in the contract that had allowed them to play high stakes games for free because the contract didn’t include their stakes. The player had been able to walk away with $236 000.
Operating an online casino is a big venture and can earn a company a lot of money, but the decision to go into the casino world comes with a lot of responsibility. Operators are dealing with a large amount of data and a lot of money, so they need to implement the very strongest security measures to keep their customers and business safe. As evidenced, there are people out there who will make the most of any flaws in systems or coding to earn themselves some easy cash, so the operators must always be innovating to be one step ahead of cybercriminals.