Why Gambling Sector Cyber Attacks Are Increasing; What We Can Do About It

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The online gambling sector is facing one of its biggest challenges to date, with the news of an increasing number of cyber attacks being directed at iGaming, sports betting and casino sites.

Player safety and security has been at the forefront of the iGaming sector for more than two decades. The fact players make financial deposits and withdrawals, and must also provide personal ID and bank details to play games online, makes it the perfect target for hackers.

Over the years safe online casinos, sportsbooks and iGaming platforms across the world have successfully stemmed the tide of hackers thanks to a security-first approach.

This stance also helped prevent gamblers straying away from legal gaming sites and onto dangerous platforms.

Yet the challenge to prevent cyber attacks never stops. A new report from cybersecurity firm Akamai claims attacks on the gaming sector have increased by 167% over the past year – and that the gaming sector is feeling the brunt of renewed attacks across all industries.

Cyber attacks

Updating your passwords is a good first step to combating fraud and theft

Gambling Cyber Attacks

According to Jonathan Singer, Akamai’s senior strategist, cyber attacks are growing “as gaming activity has increased and evolved.”

He added: “Cyber-criminals typically disrupt live services and co-opt credentials to steal gaming assets. Also, with the industry’s expansion into cloud gaming, new threat surfaces have opened up for attackers by bringing in new players who are prime targets for bad actors.”

It is believed iGaming, gambling and sports betting are particularly vulnerable because of the rapid increase in users over the past few years.

Whereas Switzerland, India, Japan, the United Kingdom used to sustain the most cyber attacks in this industry, the United States is swiftly becoming a hotbed for them.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 global pandemic only helped “bad actors” focus their cyber-attacking efforts, as more people turned to gaming for entertainment while stuck at home.

The three core attack vectors are LFI, SQLi, and XSS. Another big disruptor is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which flood host servers, causing them to crash. In doing this, criminals can bypass security systems in the hope of accessing peoples’ info and data.

As the Akami report states, “cybercriminals know there is value in gaming, and they will continue to invent ways of getting it or exploiting the flow of virtual funds”.

What Can We Do About It

There is a perpetual arms race between iGaming and gambling companies against cyber criminals. Security systems are constantly being developed and renewed, in order to combat the never-ending efforts of criminals to bypass the latest safety features.

And while that arms race continues, players are left to trust that their chosen online casino and iGaming sites can handle attacks that may come in.

Thankfully legitimate casino sites across the world must follow strict regulations around cyber security. Any breaches can lead to large fines – and generally this is enough to deter casinos or sportsbooks from lapsing on their duties.

What’s more, the number of successful cyber attacks has reduced in recent years. A decade ago UK betting firm Betfair admitted it failed to notify customers when a cyber attack stole millions of credit card details. Something like that would cause uproar today.

America is yet to witness a major, successful cyber attack on any of its online gambling platforms, but has endured attacks on its cyber systems across land-based casinos in Vegas and Atlantic City for years.

And companies are experiencing more online attacks in 2022, including an 85% increase in fake account registrations.

For players, the best things to do is ensure you register with a safe online casino, and keep your details secure. Changing passwords regularly helps, as does updating any sports betting or casino apps you may have.

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