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Protect yourself against security threats when playing poker (Part 2)

By: Chris

In the first part of this text we discussed the importance to have antivirus software installed and keep your operating system software up to date in order to avoid virus attacks and unatuhorized access to your computer. In this article we will look further into how we can keep our data safe and secure without to much effort. Again we present a number of alternatives here that you can use to limit access to your computer and retain a good level of privacy but we cannot take any responsibility for consequences for your use of the information provided here. In some countries the use of some of the software mentioned here may be prohibited and its up to you to investigate what is allowed at your location.


Access Restriction
Restricting access to your computer is as easy as it sounds, just put it into a large bin and fill it with concrete...the only disadvantage is that you may have trouble accessing it yourself, afterall you want to use your computer to play online poker or gamble online. So access restriction is always a trade-off between your needs of accessing your computer and data and security risks and threats identified. There are two kinds of problems here. First somebody can gain physical access to your computer and secondly they can get inside your system through the Internet. To prevent access from the Internet we recommend you to install a firewall. A software firewall is a program that helps you block potential harmless ports. Ports are used by software to send and retrieve data. If you for instance have a web server on your computer the port 80 is open and the web server listens for requests on that port. When somebody wants to see your homepage it intercepts the request and returns the file to the computer requesting it. It’s like a radio that enables you listen to the frequency that is set by the radio but here the computer is listening in order to provide other computers (and its users) with data. However if you dont have any web server on your computer you don’t need to have that port or frequency available. The very same counts to the world of computers but here the computer may listen to many ports. The firewall closes ports that may be harmful and potentially dangerous. It could be specific ports that are used by some well-known viruses etc. The firewall software can help you to open or close the ports then needed. This may sound technical but what it does is that it (depending on your configuration and firewall software) asks you if a program is allowed to access the Internet or not. If you want it to gain access (e.g. your poker client) you accept and can make it a default setting for that program. By using the firewall software you can gain much better control over the Internet traffic to and from your computer and prevent malicious attacks being directed to your computer. Of course you can always turn off your software firewall. The information above is based on the software Zonealarm which is free for private use. You can download it from

Physically people may also gain access to your computer and passwords. If you play at school or at work this may be the case for instance. If somebody steals your computer they could access the content stored on it and with passwords auto-saved for your poker rooms and Casinos. But most online gambling actors have made precautions to avoid unauthorized persons to access the funds through special arrangements. For instance checks are only issued in the name of the account holder only, but you may still get into trouble since they could wager all your funds. In order to avoid this you can take a number of precautions:

  • Lock up your computer in a safe place when not in use (not really practical).
  • Don't store your poker Passwords and Usernames on the computer
  • Restrict the access to the content on your computer by using login functions in your operating system.
  • Use a disk encryption utility to store sensitive information encrypted.

Some of these precautions are more or less realistic. To store your computer in a looked up area may not always be possible. Furthermore, removeing automated login from the poker software is also not a good idea at all times since it really is convenient to just click on the poker room icons and play. The best but maybe not easiest solution is to use a disk encryption utility that creates a partition on your hard drive. This means that you create a logical unit on your existing harddrive which is perceived by the system as a separate hard drive. A program like Drivecrypt (free trial available), Scramdisk (freeware works with 95/98/Me) or E4M (freeware) gives you the possibility to create virtual partitions where you can store your sensitive information. On a PC where each storage unit has an assigned letter (A: for disk drive, C: for the first hard disk and so on) these programs creates a new storage device. Physically it is a file stored on the hard disk, but within this file other files are stored. What you have to do is to create a file (called a container) assign a password and mover your sensitive files to the container. When you start up your computer you start the Scramdisk/Drivecrypt/E4M utility, mounts the container. Thereafter you can click your shortcuts on the desktops or browse the content in the explorer by using the units drive letter. Each time you start up the system you enter the secret password and all content is automatically decrypted and retrieved. You wont notice any difference in most cases. We recommend this solution if you are to store much information that is password related and of sensitive nature. This was the last article about poker security. We have compiled a small checklist that you can use to download the right software. If you find any software that may make online poker and online gambling even more safe please contact us.

/Chris - Comments and suggestions can be sent to

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