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Security Essentials for ALL Internet Poker Players!

ProfessionalRakeback logo  Poker players and sites are being taken advantage of at an alarmingly high rate lately.  While it's terrible that people would target players like this, they are not going to stop any time soon.  In such cases it is up to the player to take proper precautions to make them as safe as possible.  ProfessionalRakeback.com has you covered with this helpful guide!

Players need to protect themselves and while to some the ways to do it might seem obvious, it’s really not that simple.  Computer security and smart internet practices are not something you should just assume you know, because you can open yourself up to being taken advantage of in a most disastrous way.  In this helpful article we will look at the best way to secure your computer, and then a more attainable way to secure your computer.  The best way is more money than some may want or are able to spend and in reality there are free ways to do things that are very safe and secure, especially for non-professional players.

Ultimate Online Poker Security

If you want the most security that you can achieve then having a dedicated computer for playing poker is the first major step.  You don’t need a lot if you are only going to be playing poker on the machine.  Laptop or Desktop is fine, but if you want to use two external monitors then a desktop might be the best solution for you.  This machine should NEVER be used for anything but playing poker.  Uninstall all internet browsers and never install anything else.  If you need to install a poker client, then simply transfer the poker client via a USB stick and install the program that way.  This will ensure that nothing gets on your computer that you don’t want.

With this solution you should also use a dedicated internet connection.  Having a different ISP for poker might seem extreme, but it ensures that no one can install malware on your router or modem.  Many routers and modems are exceptionally poorly designed when it comes to security and should be treated as such. Make sure that you have a Cat5e or Cat6 cable run directly from the modem provided by the ISP connected to your desktop and never use that connection for anything else.  This provides the most security and the most difficulty for a potential hacker.  Do not buy a used modem, or a cheaper one from someone else, it’s not worth the risk.

When it comes to passwords there really is only one suitable solution.  Get a password vault that will allow you to set random passwords and store them easily.  Each site that you play at should have a unique password that is randomly generated.  This will ensure that even if someone tries to log onto your account from a different computer, you are going to be more than safe.  There is a lot of good solutions and doing research to what works best for you would be best.  Having a separate email address for poker is also pretty useful, as it will ensure that someone doesn’t hack your email and reset your passwords.  This email won’t be accessed often by you, so make sure you have a random password for it as well.

These solutions may seem a bit extreme when first looking at them, but it’s important to remember that you are dealing with a lot of money.  Protecting that investment in the best way possible is never too extreme.

Good security at an Attainable Price

One of the problems with the ultimate security approach is that price is prohibitive to a lot of players.  That’s understandable and why finding ways to be as secure as possible without breaking the bank is essential.  We will look at all of these ways and make it easy for you, as a player, to make those changes needed with little to no cost and minimal computer knowledge necessary.

Basic Malware/Virus Protection:

This is something everyone should be doing, but too few people have implemented.  Having a virus scan and malware scanner is best, not just one or the other.  Both look for different kinds programs and security risks.  You can find very good free options in both categories and it mostly comes down to what kind of UI you like best.  For virus scans some of the best free options are: Avira, Avast and Microsoft Security Essentials.  Malware is best fought with Malwarebytes, but some others do exist for those who want something a bit different.  Ultimately, it comes down to that it is important to have proper security against viruses and spyware programs to ensure that your information is as safe as possible.  Also note that the best way to run the programs is actually with the computer in “safe mode with no networking.”  You will need to update the programs before doing this, but it yields better results on average by not allowing the bad programs to hide or work behind the scenes. Running the scans every 1 to 2 weeks is best. 

Passwords:

What we wrote in the ultimate security guide still applies here.  You need random passwords for all the sites you play at that are stored in a secured vault.  It might be tempting to use the same passwords so you can log on from different computers, but it’s important to not do that for many reasons.  It makes it easy to hack and if they get one site, you don’t want them to have all the sites.  These passwords should also be different than your email, Skype and other passwords as well.  Easy is rarely secure, that is an important and true maxim.

Another thing that you can implement is 2-step verification, also known as 2-factor authentication.  This can be done a few different ways, as poker sites have different ways of implementing this.  The first way is using an RSA token provided by the site.  This will give you a code that changes every 30 seconds or 1 minute and acts as a secondary step to get access to your account.  Another option is one used by some poker sites, but a lot of non-poker sites as well, which is Google Verification.  This will send a text to your phone with the same type of code that you must enter.  Both are solid and secure ways to make it even more difficult to get into the sites you play at.

Skype/Chat Programs:

Don’t add people you don’t know.  Obviously most people don’t add random contacts that look like they are a scam, but don’t add random posters off of your favorite forum either.  It’s fairly easy to get an IP address from Skype and this is going to leave you open to a lot of different attacks.  The best way to avoid this is only add close friends and associates on your Skype or other chat programs.  If you find yourself wanting to add lots of other people then using a VPN, which we talk about in the next section, might be the smartest idea.  With an IP address someone wanting to cause harm can do it with almost no feasible way to stop them.

VPN Programs:

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, used to have the connotation of doing something illegal or at best shady.  That’s isn’t the case anymore as most people see them as a way to keep their information private and safe.  If you use a public Wi-Fi signal at any point, you should be using a VPN, as it’s easy to hack into computers and infect them or steal information from them on public Wi-Fi networks.  This is useful to use even when on your own Wi-Fi or wired network though as it just makes it harder for people to figure out your true IP address.  It’s important to remember to use your VPN carefully as some sites have restrictions on the countries you can play from.  Bovada will lock your account if you use a VPN to make appear like you are from the United Kingdom.  Also, most free or cheap VPN solutions will not fool poker sites, so save yourself the hassle and embarrassment of getting caught trying to do things against the T&C’s.

Final Thoughts

The most important take away from this article is that you need to take security very seriously, because people are going to try to steal from you.  If you ever wonder if something is too secure, it’s not.  The harder you make it for someone to get your information the safer you will be, not only in poker, but life.  If that means carrying a USB drive around your neck with your password vault on it, then that’s fine.  Making sure you feel safe, while taking proper protocol is most important.  Please share this with every poker player you know, as there is nothing worse than seeing your account was hijacked and your hard earned money is gone.

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