It’s no secret that more and more people prefer to bet and gamble online over visiting land-based establishments. Whilst this is pleasing to the multi-billion-euro online gambling industry, it’s also pleasing to the ever-growing number of cybercriminals keen to exploit its success.
Each year it becomes increasingly important for the industry to employ measures that help protect sportsbooks, casinos, and other gambling sites from security threats, cyberattacks, and malicious bots.
The Gambling Industry is a Gold Mine for Cybercriminals
The current state of sports betting in Europe, as well as the state of other forms of gambling across the continent, suggests that betting and gambling is easily among Europe’s most lucrative industries. According to the European Gaming and Betting Association, Europe’s total gambling revenue in 2021 is expected to increase by 7.5% to €87.2 billion GGR (gross gaming revenue). Much of this increase is the result of online gambling, which has gradually become the bread winner for Europe’s gambling sector, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reducing the effects of cyberattacks and online fraud is critical in order to sustain the online gambling industry. The reality is that the more the industry makes, the greater the security threats it faces.
It’s not only small firms that are at risk either. For instance, Bulgaria-based SBTech, a leading supplier of sports betting and iGaming platform solutions, was the victim of a ransomware attack back in March 2020. The company was forced to shut down its global datacentres and its clients were without a consumer-facing website for over 72 hours. Luckily for SBTech, no data breach was recorded.
Common Security Challenges for Online Betting and Gambling Firms
Each year hackers become more advanced with their attacks, leaving even the most trusted bookies for football bets and other highly-secure gambling sites vulnerable. Innovative tools and sophisticated techniques such as signal manipulation via fake apps and app-based hacking, aids hackers in breaching data and finding ways to crack through tight online security protocols.
What’s more, hackers can carry out their attacks, commit fraud, etc. from anywhere they choose, be it a local café, at the office, or from the comfort of their home. Some even work for the very companies they attack.
With that said, here’s a look at some of the main security challenges that are faced by today’s betting firms.
Account takeover attacks – With these attacks, hackers gain illegal access to a legitimate user’s profile to commit identity or payment fraud. The main goal is to steal the private information and sell it on the dark market.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – DDoS attacks occur when hackers flood gambling sites with a surprising surge of traffic. This leads to notable load time delays or a site-wide crash. The purpose is to frustrate players so they will lose interest in the site and move on to a competitor.
Expediting attacks – This is a bot-based attack that speeds up time-consuming actions primarily for the purpose of offering players unfair advantages by abusing rules in gameplay. This automated attack can lead to a reduction in user appeal and can risk the company’s reputation as an online gaming provider.
Scraping attacks – Another bot-based attack, hackers steal data from APIs, databases, and websites to exploit gambling operations. The attack often takes up excessive bandwidth and leads to an increased risk of latency, which can result in long load times for genuine customers.
Structure Query Language (SQL) injection attacks – A hacker that carries out this attack feeds infected SQL statements so they can take over a database server to add, delete or modify data as they wish. It is frequently used to access and control personal data, customer information, gaming secrets, intellectual properties of gamblers, etc.
Tips to Reduce Security Threats
No online betting business is safe from cyberattacks. Security challenges can be an issue for well-established sportsbook markets like football and can affect rising markets like eSports. With that in mind, here are three tips to help prevent problems.
- Remain compliant – Betting firms should always adhere to the regulatory requirements of the jurisdiction that issued their license. This includes following KYC (Know Your Customer) checks to prevent fraud and underage gambling, adhering to AML (anti-money laundering) regulations to prevent criminal activity, and being committed to self-exclusion requirements to protect vulnerable players.
- Consistent player authorization and authentication – Players must be able to open an account, make deposits, make bets and make withdrawals without friction. Each one of these interactions comes with a risk of fraud. Authorization and authentication must be smooth and reliable to protect player accounts.
- Use the latest security tools – Businesses should employ the right tools to mitigate the risks that are associated with share data across different privacy and regulatory frameworks.
The best way betting companies can protect their operations and their customers from cyber threats is to be vigilant, meet regulatory requirements, and ensure their security systems are top-notch.