During the summer of 2019, Pennsylvania entered the world of online gambling.
Whether you choose to sidle up to the virtual slots on your laptop or play blackjack on your mobile device, there are some safety measures you should consider.
To offer insight to better protect yourself when gambling online we tapped Kevin Hyde, an expert in establishing cybersecurity operational and governance policies for the intelligence community and private industry. He is a career field grade officer in the Marine Corps Reserve and served on active duty at the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.
“Walking cash from table to a cage and a cage to a truck is a secure process. A smart thief isn’t going to get in the middle of that transaction,” says Hyde of brick-and-mortar casinos. “Getting into the middle of a data transaction is much easier.”
Regulated sites only
A key factor in lowering risks is to play only on legal, regulated online gambling sites. There are currently five online casino sites in PA.
- PokerStars Casino
- Unibet Casino
Unregulated sites, says Hyde, tend to be filled with malicious criminal groups. Be aware of fake sites that ask you to download attachments.
Don’t confuse this with online casino apps for your phone though. All five PA online casino sites have Android apps available for download, but you want to be sure to download it directly from the casino website. When it comes to Apple App Store apps
Unregulated gambling sites are often the source of phishing attacks. Never click on a website through an email from a source you do not recognize.
Should I gamble on public WiFi?
Never gamble on public wifi advises Hyde.
Public wifi is an open signal that anyone can attach to. Then, they can run programs that allow hackers to:
- See your internet traffic
- Watch your internet traffic
- Possibly intercept and steal your credentials
- Confiscate your gambling accounts, checking, or credit accounts
“It doesn’t cost a lot to be a hacker. It’s not the nefarious looking dude wearing a hoodie in the corner. They look like everyone else. The threat is much more sophisticated than one person.”
If you are on an open signal, it’s safer using your cell phone’s hotspot. Or, you can purchase and use a VPN. It still doesn’t completely protect you on a public wifi network but it is a significant improvement in safety.
Pay for an antivirus
Hyde suggests purchasing a good antivirus program for your computer and/or phone. In addition, be sure to keep operating systems updated.
“If you use free software, you don’t know what you are getting.”
Here is a checklist of some things you can do to improve your security when gambling online.
- Clean out old caches and memories periodically.
- Use good password structures.
- Never share your password across multiple accounts
- Choosing a secure method of payment/withdraw processing.
Use an identify theft monitoring service
Your computer contains a wealth of data that hackers target such as:
- Social Security numbers
- Financial information
- Account information
Nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft according to a 2018 survey.
Hyde highly recommends using an identity theft monitoring service if you gamble online. Usually, banks offer some form of free or inexpensive identity theft monitoring protection.
Enable login notifications
Online casinos in Pennsylvania enable you to receive an email notification upon login. It might seem annoying if you are the one logging in. But if someone else is doing it, it is a first sign that something is amiss.
Keep winnings quiet
Don’t post publicly about your winnings. You may gain some unwanted attention.
“Talking about your money or winnings is not a good idea.”
Hyde adds that posting your winnings can create stalkers and unwanted attention from friends and family members looking for money.