When it comes to cyber security, very few industries take it as seriously as online gambling. Since the very first casino websites popped up more than two decades ago, safeguarding against fraud — both from a player and a casino’s standpoint — has always been a primary concern.
Upholding security that is up to or even beyond global standards is absolutely crucial for customer confidence and retention. This is the very reason why you do not hear about any major casinos facing off against security breaches. However, it still does not hide the fact that these sites that offer online casino games could come under attack at a moment’s notice. And with the ever-increasing sophistication of hackers and the very real possibility of gaining massive riches, the battle between black hats and online casinos has never been waged more fiercely.
In this article, we’ll dive into the major issues that emphasize how significant world-class cybersecurity is for online casinos, and the possible hazards that they could come up against should their standards ever slip.
The Risks Of Hacking
Casinos have had a bulls-eye painted on it by hackers and fraudsters since ever since the early days of organized gambling. Criminals have this tendency to go to where the money is, and with huge amounts of money hands in the casino business on any given day, the fit has been seamless. So much so that casinos have become synonymous with security that just might even trump that of the White House itself!
As casinos conduct an increasing amount of business on the Internet, the threat from hackers is pervasive, if not amplified than ever before. So instead of chip switching scams, hidden earpieces, and brute-force heists, online casinos are keeping a close eye out for distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, game hacks and fraud involving user accounts.
The dream hacking endeavor for any cybercriminal would be to write a script that allows them to take over a game without exposure. Imagine being able to take a seat at an online casino blackjack table and win every hand you play? All reputable online casinos – very much like their land-based counterparts – have implemented safeguards or cut/off points to identify sketchy sequences of wins, but a shrewd hacker taking a little on a consistent basis could still walk away with plenty in the long run.
A lot of online casinos feature the same games under license – so this exploit could be utilized over many different sites. As far as the public knows, nothing of such magnitude has yet occurred (However, it is not likely a casino would ever go public regarding an event if in case it happens) but as sure as the sun shines, you can be sure there are teams of hackers out there planning towards such a goal.
Hacking is a very real danger that can compromise data security. Online casinos are no different than any other Internet-based business in that they need to safely store their clients’ personal and financial information. This presents a completely different level of risk management as major casinos can often have millions of customers – making them a chief target for hackers that want to appropriate this kind of data. Online casinos use the same level of security measures as that of the world’s biggest banks. But if major banks can still occasionally be breached, who’s to say a casino may not be next on hackers’ lists?
In addition, there is also the mounting risk of app-based hacking. Even though casinos say that their apps are a more safe and secure means of playing games than playing through a browser, the truth is that mobile play is easier to intercept and work through 4G signals and shared WiFi. Publishing bogus editions of these very same apps on marketplaces can also compromise a player’s private data.
How the Casino Industry Safeguards Against Cyber Crime
Disturbing as the aforementioned situations are, the truth is the online casino industry boasts of an impressive track record compared to most in preventing losses and dealing with cybercrime. There are a number of reasons for this, the most fundamental of which is: casinos do not like losing money!
In order to acquire an operating license, casinos have to fulfill a number of criteria, and one of the most crucial of which is to prove that they do everything necessary to maintain their security. This is why online casinos use the theoretically unbreakable 128-bit standard of encryption alongside remote back-ups of all their data/customer information. In theory, this essentially means that even if a site comes under a massive denial of service attack and is pulled offline for an extended period of time, clients have nothing to freak out about as their information is still secured, quite literally under lock and key. Yes, server rooms are most times kept secure the old-fashioned way, in casino vaults that can only be accessed with a key.
Online casinos are no different from their brick-and-mortar counterparts in being experts at loss prevention. As mentioned, suspicious patterns will be automatically flagged and customers placed under review before any payout is handed out. This does actually happen when players hit a legitimate winning streak and make substantial winnings – it’s pretty basic due diligence and the same concept that any other business would use. After all, if a random number generation program has been compromised and been manipulated the ramifications for the entire industry – not just that single operator – would be enormous.
Aside from the duty of casinos to protect their customers, there are other more tangible reasons why casinos need to strengthen their operation and take extra measures to protect against these online criminals.
For example, GDPR regulations mandate the public disclosure of any data breaches as soon as they are identified, which is a PR disaster waiting to happen – regardless of whether or not any data was actually placed at risk in the attack.
And of course, it does nothing to forge trust between the customer and their casino, if online casinos are susceptible to these types of attacks. This has potentially longer-term effects for casino operators, and as we’ve seen with high profile hacks in past years, there’s the very real potential of destroying a trusted casino brand.
Unfortunately, this is not a fluid situation either, with the risks and defenses in cybersecurity consistently evolving. As a result, it has become utterly crucial for casinos to take the risks seriously, and take careful steps to protect against these threats, both here and now and in the future.
In order to help you better understand the basics of online casino security and the tools that are needed to improve your odds of picking a trustworthy and secure casino for your online play, read on below.
Factors to Consider When Looking For a Secure Online Casino
How can you distinguish reputable casinos from low-quality ones? Two points of emphasis are the organizations that regulate and test the casino and the random number generator the casino employs.
Regulatory and Testing Bodies
Any quality casino will have a license that is given to it by a credible jurisdiction. Malta, the United Kingdom, and the Isle of Man are three of the most highly thought-of licensing bodies that basically guarantee online casino security. Online casinos that submit their games and systems to the regular auditing are mandated to maintain a license are more likely to be secure than those who are weakly regulated or even function without a license.
The Basics of Random Number Generators
Random number generators (RNGs) are the heart of a secure, high-integrity and fair online casino. Without a dependable, truly random generator, you have no means of knowing whether a game at a casino is fair. As online casinos use virtual decks of cards and slot reels, the RNG is the principal tool that makes sure that the deal of the card or the spin of the slot is truly based on chance and not privy to any interference from outside forces. Reliable casinos who take security very seriously will provide information about their RNG and employ independent firms to test and verify their RNG.
Common Questions About Casino Security and Game Fairness
Gambling for real money online is something that raises a lot of questions, and fittingly so. Some of the inquiries we most commonly encounter about casino security are collected and answered below.
What is a Rogue Casino?
The term "rogue casino" is generally used to describe casinos that are unlicensed, unregulated, have a history of defrauding players or worse, all of the above. While there are complaints about all online casinos out there for finding should you look hard enough, be wary of casinos that are assigned the "rogue casino" moniker by reputable review sites or watchdog groups.
How Do You Know the Casino You are Playing at is Fair?
This should be a question directed at gamblers, not one asked only at the start of your online play. Knowing the casino is fair entails a combination of initial research (that includes your personal network, available communities and investigation of the regulatory and RNG concerns that were raised in our discussion of online casino security earlier) and constant evaluation based on your experience with that casino.
How Do Casinos Acquire Their Licenses?
The particular process differs from regulatory body to regulatory body, but a common process includes a software audit, a systems audit, background checks on the principles and concepts, suitability and solvency checks, and so on. The great thing about a secure online casino is that you don't need to wonder how they procured their license, as their licensing body will actually list the process and required information in publicly available documents.
What is an SSL?
SSL (short for Secure Sockets Layer) is a method for guaranteeing secure communication between two points on the Internet. Obviously, you need a secure channel to log in to online casinos and to pass your personal data to the casino; SSL is a method used to forward your data in an encrypted fashion, making it virtually impossible for a party in the middle of the communication to listen in.
How Safe Are You Banking at an Internet Casino?
If you select an online casino that is sufficiently licensed and regulated, you are as safe as you would be using an online banking service or shopping online at a major retailer.
Can You Play Online Casino Games on a Public Network?
Doing anything that involves personal data or money while you are on a public network is mostly frowned upon. If you frequently find yourself making use of public connections, you might want to consider investing in a secure mobile broadband solution. You cannot guarantee casino security when using public networks.
What is eCOGRA?
eCOGRA (short for e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance) is a world-recognized organization that audits and monitors online gambling operators. Accredited operators will display the eCOGRA seal on their websites, and you can click on that seal for more information about what aspects of the casino's operation have been tested or audited by eCOGRA.
Who are TST?
Technical Systems Testing is a Canadian firm that provides a variety of auditing services to secure online casinos and gaming companies. TST is widely recognized as one of the top testing and compliance organizations in the industry.
What is a Payout Percentage?
A payout percentage is the average rate of return for a given game. For example: If a slot machine has a return of 95%, that means that in the aggregate, $0.95 of every $1.00 wagered would be returned to players in winnings.
Why Do Payout Percentages Differ Across Games?
There are a number of reasons. One is because different games are structured in different ways; at times games with big-ticket jackpots will actually have worse payout percentages all in all. Some casinos offer higher payout percentages as a marketing tool. And finally, some games just offer better odds than other games.
In closing, cybersecurity isn’t easy, and as criminals and their systems become more sophisticated, the pressures on casino operators can only increase. As a result, cybersecurity will continue to rise up the agenda for casinos and gambling sites online, as they continue to adapt to the new threats they face.