Cybersecurity Experts Caution About iGaming Use During Holiday Travel

Posted on: December 20, 2023, 02:12h. 

Last updated on: December 20, 2023, 10:58h.

Cybersecurity experts are warning travelers to think twice before using public Wi-Fi this holiday season.

public Wi-Fi cybersecurity iGaming online gaming
Public Wi-Fi in airports is susceptible to cyberattacks and breaches of confidential information, cybersecurity experts say. New polling suggests most travelers aren’t aware of the inherent risks of using public Wi-Fi. (Image: Shutterstock)

A recent study published in Forbes Advisor provides details about the inherent risks of using public Wi-Fi.

Market research firm OnePoll surveyed 1,000 adults who used public Wi-Fi during their air travel over the past year. The pollsters found that only 17% reported feeling unsafe using the internet provided through a public network. Despite a rather strong sense of personal security, the research team said that more than four in 10 (41%) had their information compromised during their travels.

These figures suggest a disconnect between the actual risks of using public Wi-Fi and the perceived safety among travelers, indicating a potential gap in awareness or understanding of the cybersecurity threats in such environments,” wrote financial expert Katherine Haan in the Forbes Advisor report.

Those polled said they accessed public Wi-Fi for a variety of reasons, most commonly to reduce their cellular data consumption. Respondents said staying connected is critical during travel, whether it be for work, for financial matters, for staying in touch with friends and family via social media, or for staying entertained through online games.

“Despite the prevalent risks associated with public Wi-Fi, a surprising majority of travelers maintain a sense of security,” Haan continued. “These findings not only shed light on current behavior but also highlight the need for increased protective measures in our digitally connected travels.”

iGaming, Online Sportsbook Data Troves

The U.S. gaming industry is on high alert regarding cybersecurity after two high-profile attacks this year targeted both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.

Cybersecurity experts say casinos and online gaming platforms have become attractive targets for cybercriminals. That’s because the companies possess significant amounts of sensitive data on millions of customers. That data includes personal identifying information (PII) like driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, bank accounts, and credit card info.

Aura, a digital security firm, says public Wi-Fi networks often have considerably fewer cybersecurity protections in place than your home network. Aura officials say skilled hackers at a place like an airport can infect someone’s device with malware, obtain personal information, steal passwords, snoop on confidential data, and perform ransomware attacks.

A common scheme hackers employ is setting up a malicious hotspot that has a name similar to the public place’s actual Wi-Fi. When you connect to their hotspot, they can rather easily intercept your data, and  sometimes, even take over your device.

Another scheme is called a “man-in-the-middle” (MITM) attack. Aura says this involves bad actors breaking into a network and eavesdropping on data as it travels between connected devices and the Wi-Fi router. When you enter a password, the MITM might intercept the credentials.

Airplane Wi-Fi Unsecured

OnePoll found that you’re most likely to have your information compromised at an airport or while flying. Among those who said their data was wrongly accessed, 67% said they believed the cyber incident occurred while in the air, and 51% said they believed their info was obtained at the airport.

Other locations prone to Wi-Fi crime include hotels, public transportation like rail and buses, restaurants, and retail stores.

So, before you open your online sportsbook app to place one more sports bet before boarding your flight this holiday season, you might be smart to facilitate the wager through your device’s mobile data, not a public Wi-Fi connection.