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Protect yourself against security threats when playing poker.

By: Chris

Security is an important aspect in today's online world. Viruses may target our computers and malicious software can cause deletion of important data or access to information stored on your computer. Needless to say, as an online Poker Player where data about accounts and information about your activities with online Poker Rooms, Neteller and other actors takes place security is of uttermost importance for you. But what exactly is security and Privacy. We will break down the area into a number of points and thereafter suggest precautions and actions you can take to meet potential security threats resulting in a breach of your privacy and lost data. The two areas we will consider in this article are Encryption and Access restrictions. We will talk about Encryption in this first article and discuss access restriction in a later one. We cannot take any responsibility for consequences for your use of the information provided here. In some countries the use of of the software mentioned here may be prohibited and its up to you to investigate what is allowed at your location.

Data transmitted on the Internet is sent in Packets through something called TCP/IP. When you access a webpage e.g. your computer basically takes your request and puts it into tiny packages that are sent out on the Internet. The host computer, in this case the web server at CNN assembles the packets of data and interpretates the content and processes the request. You can for yourself see this process by installing a program called HTTP-look that captures the requests and data received when you surf on the Internet. The problem is however that other persons can capture your packets and assemble the content since your packets may bounce around the Internet for everyone with skill to grab. In most cases this may not be a problem since the only thing they can se is that somebody with a specific IP-number makes a particular request. However if the information transmitted contains credit card information the situation is another one. Luckily sensitive information is encrypted. To decode the information in an encrypted message the recipient must be able to decode the data, otherwise it will make no sense to the reader.

When your computer communicates with an Online Poker room about cards dealt, deposit requests and withdrawal and account information this data is encrypted. In order for your computer to read the data it needs a key to unlock the secret code from the poker room so it can read the cards dealt and account information. So is this safe? Yes it is quite safe but of course everything can be hacked, however there are probably easier ways to do it and that is to grab the data before it is encrypted for instance at your computer at home.

Here we can do something as computer owners, we can make it harder for unauthorized persons to access the data on our computers. What an unauthorized person can do is to spy on you in your home or steal your computer; the problem is that they may do so without even getting into your house physically. By hacking your computer they may gain access to your data and your activities without even knowing where you are located physically. By installing spyware and keyloggers unauthorized persons are gaining access to your computer. This is something most people would like to avoid since this is a privacy infringement they can live without. Some software may be quite harmless they may send anonymous statistics about your surfing habits while some may be really cruel providing hackers with your typed in credit card details snapped up by a key logging program. How do users gain access to install the software on your computer? The truth is that most of the time computer users may do this themselves not aware of what they install. An e-mail containing an attachment may install the software and may redistribute the file to other users in your address book. These viruses can spread around the world with an impressive speed. In order to avoid this we recommend you to always use antivirus software. Some of the most common today are: Norton Antivirus, F-Secure Antivirus, McAffee, and Panda Antivirus.

It's really a matter of taste, which one you choose since they all have similar functionality. You can try out most of the software before you buy it. If you are doing some of your work at home your employer may provide you with a home license for free, check with your employer to find out what applies for your company. I would personally go for the software my company provided me with if available since it often includes a subscription of viruses and malicious code.

When you install an antivirus program on your computer you can do a detailed scan where the software inspects all your stored data and upon detection of a virus it will in most cases be able to remove it from your system.

Some unwanted software might be less destructive and more focused on collecting information. This software can be defined as spyware and are basically information collectors ranging from keyloggers to cookies used to store information when you visit websites on your computer. Since some of this software is rather harmless virus software doesn't target them. Instead you need software that can inspect your cookies and remove spyware for you. If you have downloaded shareware or freeware from the Internet there is a chance that this software has spyware components. Often this is mentioned in the long terms and conditions box presented upon installation however most users doesn't read it so they are unaware of the presence of the software.

By using the free Ad Aware software you can scan your computer in order to detect spyware however be careful to delete all your cookies since it may for instance remove login information and preferences for sites you visit. You can download ad aware here.

So far we have two pieces of software we suggest you acquire, Antivirus software and Spyware detection software which solves the following issues:

  • Malicious software threatening your privacy and data
  • Less malicious software threatening mainly your privacy without a clear informed consent.
  • Important: Don't remove all cookie files since they may affect the appearance of certain web sites where you have personalised settings.

We have also pointed out that the information is pretty safe when it is transmitted over the Internet and encrypted and that the problem often arises inside the Client computers connected to the Internet. The third issue we want to bring to the readers attention is to keep you operatin system up to date.

Keeping your operating system up to date
Another important aspect is to keep your operating system software up to date. If you are using Windows you have an opportunity to check for system updates through something called windows update. At some editions of Windows this may even be done automatically. You can access windows update from your start menu or from Internet Explorer.

In the next section will deal with Access Restrictions that is to limit access to your computer both for persons able to access your computer physically and through the internet. Go to our article on access restriction.

/Chris - Comments and suggestions can be sent to

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