Data leaks are not uncommon on the internet. It feels like every week there is another story about hackers somehow gaining access to a company's financial and personal records.
However, very little is known by the public about how these criminals can operate. Online casino sites are among those that can be targeted, for obvious reasons. These sites have a huge amount of financial data for their customers, such as their debit and credit card information.
For example, did you know that even a fish tank can be used as a tool by hackers? This is the incredible story of how criminals used an aquarium to break into a casino's online systems.
What is the Internet of Things?
This story depends on a bit of IT knowledge, so let's bring you up to speed in this area first. Have you heard of the Internet of Things - or just IoT for short? The Internet of Things is a term that started to be used a few years ago to help describe a new form of cloud-based technology.
Household items are increasingly able to be hooked up to the internet, for various reasons. As an example, you can buy kettles that can be controlled from your mobile device. This means you set the kettle up to boil water and save some time in the process.
Systems such as the Nest are among those that also rely on the Internet of Things. Essentially, anything that relies on being linked to the net in order for it to work is a part of the IoT nowadays. The list of IoT-enabled devices and items is increasing all the time and already includes things such as fridges, which can now alert their owners when certain stocks are starting to run low.
However, the IoT has created a new opportunity for wily hackers. These criminal individuals are always seeking out the next way to hack into systems and steal data and cash as a result.
People happily welcome systems such as Alexa from Amazon into their homes without thinking too much about the privacy and security implications. But most people would think something as simple as a fish tank would not put them at risk of being hacked. They would be wrong.
How hackers used a fish tank to target an online casino
Back in 2017, it emerged that hackers had aimed to gain access to a casino that was based in North America. Nothing too unusual about this story on the face of it—this happens quite regularly, in fact. However, the way they did so was odd. It was through a fish tank.
In the story, which was reported on by the Washington Post, it was revealed that the fish tank was connected to a PC through the internet. This enabled the tank's owner to regulate things such as the cleanliness and the temperature of the tank, keeping the fish healthy.
But the tank being online through the computer meant that it was a part of the Internet of Things. And this means that it became a target for hackers who tried to get into the casino's system.
Cybersecurity firm Darktrace explained that 10 GB of data was transferred out of the casino's system after hackers were able to gain access through the fish tank. It was not revealed which particular casino was the victim of the scam.
Director of cyber intelligence for Darktrace, Justin Fier, told the Post that stories such as this one could hasten regulation of the Internet of Things. But that will prove to be very challenging.
Even if the United States was able to introduce legislation for this area—and there is no guarantee a proposed change to the law would pass—internet hackers are a global problem that requires a globally produced solution in order to combat them effectively.
Staying safe and secure at online casinos
So, if even a fish tank makes a casino a target for hackers, how can players ensure their data does not fall into the wrong hands? This is easier said than done, but one way could be to use cryptocurrencies. By using crypto like Bitcoin to make deposits, players can avoid having to hand over any financial information to their chosen casino site.
Whilst using cryptocurrencies at online casinos might appear daunting at first, there are many online casinos that now use this as a regular payment method for making deposits and withdrawals. Some casinos, like those on this list, are much better than others at making this as smooth a process as possible for their customers. There are also some that have integrated cryptocurrencies more securely into their payment platforms - those are the ones to seek out.
If a site is hacked, the cryptocurrency user will be a lot more protected than any player who has used something like a debit card that is linked to their main bank account to play games.
Hackers, meanwhile, are also said to be using servers that are operated by various companies in order to make Bitcoin. Keeping the hackers at bay could be about to get even harder.