Quick zoom into the screen of a computer. Thousands of symbols and numbers moving quickly on a black screen. Funky but ominous music, mixed with the unmistakable sound of a slot machine in the background. Maybe even a narrator with a smooth voice detailing how the plan is gonna go down, right down to the last and the most unlikeliest (and unrealistic) of details.
You’ve probably seen enough Hollywood films with pretty much this exact same scene that I’ve just described. The infamous casino heist scene. More specifically, the cyber heist scene. And while it might be a lot less sexy and glamorous in real life, hacking and cyber attacks remain one of the greatest threats to any casino. That is why casinos and other similar institutions must always remain alert to the dangers they face and must be able to respond and adapt in a moment’s notice.
What are the risks of hacking for a casino?
We often hear and read news about hacking. This celebrity getting hacked. This organization’s private information getting leaked. A politician’s emails being revealed to all. But what dangers are hacking pose to a casino?
The first and most important risk you want to avoid is giving hackers access to your customers’ private and sensitive information. That may include names and contact information, which is already bad enough. But this could also very well be credit card information and account passwords, and risking the financial safety of the customer and the casino itself.
The Hard Rock Casino is all too familiar with this situation, having suffered from a data breach back in May 2015, and again in the following year. In two attacks, hackers were able to gain access to critical information, including cardholder names, credit card numbers and CVV codes belonging to the hotel and casino’s guests and customers. A breach of this nature does little in the way of helping the casino’s reputation and betrays the trust their customers put in them.
Casinos based in Europe are required by GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) to disclose to the general public any and all data breaches as soon as they occur, regardless of the type of data that was compromised or whether the attack was successful. This type of regulation helps keep the casino in check, and should most definitely act as an incentive for casinos to stay on top of their cybersecurity.
And it’s not just about illegally acquiring sensitive information. Hacking the system may put the game’s integrity at risk. One of the main attractions of gambling is that, in theory at least, everyone starts on an even footing and therefore has a legitimate chance at a big-money win. But if hackers are able to access and alter the game’s software, results may be swayed into one player’s favour. And the best part is, it’s a lot more difficult to detect than a big data breach, but potentially as profitable, especially if it’s one of those gambling games with massive payouts.
And aside from their customers’ security, casinos have to be careful that their own accounts or online vaults are hack-proof. These are organizations with literally up to millions of dollars in their accounts, and you can see why they would be a lucrative target for any hacker. Casinos have to stay up to date and be proactive in their cybersecurity efforts, otherwise the results may be devastating.
What’s the solution?
There doesn’t seem like there’s much to be done, from an individual point of view. However, there are new gambling platforms being set up, known as No Account Casinos, or are sometimes referred to as extra privacy casinos. These don’t really require signing up and giving up personal information or credit card/account numbers.
For casinos, however, there are many precautions that can be taken. Proper data management and security. Leaving data unsecured to hackers are akin to leaving a vault of cash slightly ajar for a group of robbers; they have to expend very little effort in order to get what they want. The second is making sure they are aware of their possible vulnerabilities by conducting vulnerability sweeps, and working on improving them and ‘patching up the holes’ as best they can. The problem is that cybersecurity is the very antonym of static; it is ever changing, adaptive, rapid, creative and vicious. It is nigh on impossible to be completely hack-proof, but with the right precautions taken, you could at least be well-equipped to deal with the attacks when they arrive.