Possible Hacking Scandal in Barcelona
Friday, 6 September 2013
By Eve Goodman
The dangers of hacking in poker hit the spotlight exactly a month ago, when Douglas ‘WCGRider’ Polk revealed he had been taken for $35k by someone who it later turned out could see his hole cards.
The scandal broke after Polk, an American high-stakes cash-game pro, publicly accused British player Joshua Tyler of having interfered with his computer. Tyler has since protested his innocence, but the matter is as yet unresolved.
PokerStars acted swiftly in issuing Polk with almost a full refund from the mysterious account ‘Forbidden536’, but the controversy nonetheless continued to generate unease in the poker world.
Today, a fresh hacking scandal has hit the high-stakes community, with reported cases of EPT Barcelona players falling victim to laptop-tampering. The news came out after high-stakes regular Jens ‘Jeans’ Kyllönen posted on Two Plus Two forums with a warning to fellow poker players staying in the Hotel Arts. In the original post, ‘Jeans’ reported problems with his room key, as well as his laptop mysteriously disappearing and reappearing from his room, as quoted below:
“For now both for me and ignat liviu (0human) the same thing happened roomkey doesn’t work, go down to reception for a new key, come to the room to notice the laptop missing, go back down, in less than 10min go back up, and the laptop has reappeared. We are for sure not the only ones. Tell everyone you know at Barcelona arts to not play on their laptops. I’ll post a complete story about these sickening last days in a day or two. Just posting this quickly from my ipad to warn everyone.”
PokerStars Head of Poker Communications Lee Jones has since confirmed Kyllönen’s story, urging players staying at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona to be exceedingly cautious with their laptops. In his post, Jones advises players to undertake a number of security precautions, including storing their laptop in the hotel room safe, changing all passwords, running virus/Trojan detection software and even possibly completely wiping and reformatting the PC itself.
The news has sparked fear and anxiety in the poker community, with scores of players expressing worries that the kind of specialised poker Trojan potentially in question could be incredibly difficult to detect and eradicate using conventional virus-scanning methods. Run It Once pro Leo ‘isildroon’ Nordin weighed in by saying he would be unwilling to take the risk of ever using the laptop again, saying “I would set the laptops involved on fire, let them burn out and smash the remains. Do not bring them home and attach them to your wireless network.”
EPT Barcelona is one of the biggest events in the poker calendar, and many big-name pros are in attendance. Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan chimed in to suggest that the faulty room keys were the foundation of the scam, adding that an inside job “could mean a poker player, a poker employee, or a hotel employee”, while Daniel ‘Jungleman12’ Cates proposed that police should “look at video surveillance in reception”.
It is currently too early to tell just how many players have been affected, but it could potentially be many – some of which may be entirely oblivious that anything untoward has even happened. In the mean time, players are advised to stay vigilant and ensure that their laptops are as secure as possible. This incident has served only to add to the undercurrent of fear and paranoia felt in poker circles – for if there’s anything we can say with authority, it’s that poker players are used to being the predators rather than the prey.
Kyllonen has posted the full story here.