Internet Security Tips To Keep You And Your Online Poker Accounts Safe From Attack
“Only the paranoid survive” is a quote often used in the business world in reference to competition, although it takes on a very literal meaning when dealing with internet security. Every year there are many large scale attacks reported on companies and websites by unscrupulous hackers, and even more minor attacks that go unnoticed or unreported.
Online poker players are known to keep sometimes very large sums of money online in order to play the game they enjoy and in some cases earns them a living or at least side income. This makes players targets to online thieves and as such you need to ensure everything is done to keep your money safe. This article is designed to help you do exactly that by taking you through steps you should already be taking as well as those you may consider as your bankroll grows.
How To Keep Your Poker Accounts Secure – The Basics
Being Vigilant – You should have virus killers and firewalls operating on your computer as standard. If not, stop reading and get some software now! You could be opening your information up to online attacks. Make sure you are running regular scans and keep these programs updated.
You should not log onto a public network if you can possibly avoid it as these are notoriously unsafe. If you are travelling a lot you may choose to purchase a pay-as-you-go dongle or wifi device to provide yourself with your own private connection, or tethering your computer to your smartphone and having that act as a wifi hotspot is an option especially if you are on a limitless data contract.
Be wary of suspicious looking emails or IMs. Remember no site or company should ever request personal passwords or PINs and you should never volunteer them even to friends or family. Also avoid using links attached to unexpected emails, no matter how legitimate they appear – promotions and information can normally be found by logging onto the downloadable client or directly to the website via your browser. If you get any form of contact from a site that you are unsure feel free to end that communication be it via email, IM or phonecall and create a new dialogue by contacting their support yourself.
Passwords – All sites require you to password protect your account. As widely recommended after the recent ‘Heartbleed’ attacks, this should be a unique password for each site. If you just have the same passwords for everything obviously you risk having your poker account or online wallet emptied if a forum you use is hacked.
Coming up with a secure password yet memorable password can be tricky. You can use a random password creator and storing them in a password vault, although some may argue against the security of keeping all your passwords together. Another to do this is to remember an accoryn of a phrase you can include numbers and symbols into and a hidden reference to remind you of the site you are trying to log onto. For example “The three websites I visit most: Facebook, Party poker, sitandgoplanet” could be remembered as a very secure “T3wIvm:F,Pp,s”.
If you need to write your passwords down, store these documents securely, away from your computer when not online.
How To Keep Your Poker Accounts Secure – Medium Level Security
If you are holding any amount of real money in your account it is strongly suggested you implement one or more of the following steps in order to protect your account.
PINS – Some sites such as PokerStars and Full Tilt allow you to enable a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to be entered after you have inputted your password. In the Stars client it is in a traditional number form, while Full Tilt allows you to choose three cards from a deck. These do have advantage of providing an secondary barrier to attacks although if someone also had access to your emails they can request a reset.
SMS PINS – These are one use PIN numbers which are sent directly to your mobile phone from the site, which many sites have started using. The advantage here is these cannot be reset – no one can get them from anywhere other than via your phone. The only real reason not to use this would be if you lived or played regularly in an area with a poor signal.
RSA keys – This additional layer of security requires you to enter a second password. You can get this from a small physical device that you can attach to a keyring, which displays a temporary code. This code refreshes itself every few seconds, making it virtually impossible for anyone to log onto your account without knowing your initial password and having your RSA device. Again these are available to use at many sites although they may charge you a small fee or deduct player points for the unit’s costs.
How To Keep Your Poker Accounts Secure – High Level Security
High Stakes players are known to keep large sums of money in their accounts and as such make themselves targets to a greater varieties and levels of attack. If this applies to you then here are some
Poker Computer – For those with large bankrolls, you may wish to invest in a poker that is solely used to play poker. You should remove all unwanted programs off your hard-drive, then download your poker clients and any tools you use, such as tracking software or ICM calculators. Once this is done you should not do anything else on there, just play and analyse your game. If you wish to visit websites or use Skype this should be done on another unit in order to prevent your poker computer being compromised.
In order to secure this computer further, especially if it is a poker laptop you travel with, seal up the USB ports with glue or filler to prevent anybody to plugging in USB sticks with malicious programs, and where possible arrange for the unit to be stored securely when not in use.
Personal Security – Within the online poker communities many friendships are legitimately built via forums and online contact. When meeting up with people or inviting them to your home, no matter how well you think you know them keep a degree of caution. In particular ensure your guest do not have access to any of your poker playing equipment at least without you knowing exactly what they are doing, and never let them gain access to your accounts.
If you have had a recent large win or have gained some media attention, maybe in a televised tournament, ensure you and your property are safe from thieves and attacks. There have been a handful of cases where high profile poker players have actually been physically threatened, robbed, beaten and even shot. If you believe you could be at risk consult local police or security firms for advice.
How To Keep Your Poker Accounts Secure – Your Inconvenience Is Less Than Theirs
Getting the basics of online security right, takes very little time and effort to put into place and will go a long way to protect you. As your bankroll grows, keep reviewing your current security and habits to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep your accounts safe. Consider the value of getting an RSA device or even a complete new computer for poker.
You are also gaining nothing by keeping more money online than you need, so withdraw any excess to keep your exposure to a minimum. Remember what may be a small pain for you to complete may be a big enough inconvenience to deter or prevent someone stealing from you.