It is a problem that seems to be intensifying; players having their online poker accounts hacked into, and funds transferred out of their accounts. It has happened recently to a few well-known players. Annette_15 had her Ultimatebet account hacked into. Greg Raymer, aka "Fossilman", had his Pokerstars account hacked, and the people responsible tried to clean out his account by dumping off money to an accomplice in heads up Sit and Go's. Other notable players have also been hacked as well.
So where is the problem? Is the security at these poker rooms such as Full Tilt Poker and Pokerstars lax? Or should players be doing more to protect themselves and their passwords?
The security measures that major poker rooms take are quite extensive, and it would be nearly impossible for someone to actually hack into their backend and exploit accounts that way. Instead, players are falling victim to more primitive forms of deception, such as keyloggers being installed on their computers.
In this day and age, so many players also use Instant Messenger, ICQ, and AIM. It is fairly easy to get your hands on a poker player's IM account. If you can trick them into a downloading a file while you are talking to them, you can easily include a keylogger as well and obtain their password that way. This is the most common way that players have their accounts compromised. Always be mindful of who you are talking to, and refuse to download any files unless you are absolutely certain that you trust the person sending the file.
In Greg Raymer's case, his account was compromised due to the culprits guessing his password. As with any password, you should make it hard to guess, with a combination of letters and numbers. And even better, I would recommend changing your password every week or so.
What can poker rooms do to make it harder for their players accounts to be compromised? It may not be a bad idea to have a second layer of protection in addition to a password, such as having to type in the answer to a secret question everytime that you log in. While this won't prevent accounts from being compromised that have been the victim of keyloggers, it will help to prevent the brute force guessing of passwords.
In short, be careful about who you talk to online, and always change your password. In addition, you should spend some money and buy a good anti-virus / spyware software package that will help to identify any programs that have been loaded onto your computer without your consent.
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