Why performance and security matter

Paul Jackson, Senior Manager of Media Industry Strategy at Akamai Technologies, asks: ‘how can the industry improve its resilience and user experience at the same time?’


he expansion into new markets in search of profits overseas has forced significant developments within the online gambling industry. What’s more developments such as the rise in prominence of in-play gambling and gamblers swapping betting shops for their devices, have made the industry a highly competitive and crowded space.

However, in an age of unprecedented cybercrime, and record data breaches occurring at an alarming rate, it’s not all plain sailing for the industry. With online gambling set to break the $60 billion by 2020, hackers are primed to expose any weaknesses to get a slice of the pie. To make matters worse, with huge competitive pressures and consumers continuing to demand better experiences through new tools and services as well as a quicker and more reliable service, the industry is both increasing its presence online, and its risk. So how can the industry improve its resilience and user experience at the same time?


Online gambling is now the largest gambling sector in Britain. Today it holds on to a variety of personal identifiable information, from usernames and passwords to credit card details, which makes the industry a more lucrative target to hackers than ever before. But it’s not just traditional means of breaking security defences that the industry needs to worry about. The rise in the use of bots in a hacker’s arsenals has meant that cybercriminals can now deploy an army of millions to wreak havoc across the internet with techniques security professionals call credential stuffing and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

A two-pronged approach is necessary for gambling

businesses looking to remain protected

60 APRIL 2019 CIO

To put these in layman’s terms, credential stuffing is where hackers access users credential online, which are made available from a previous breach on another site, and program bots to enter these details on other sites in case users have used duplicated passwords. To put this into context, three out of four users duplicate passwords across multiple online accounts and, with the Gambling Commission stating that the

average online gambler has four accounts, it’s clear that credential stuffing poses a serious threat to the industry.

In addition to hackers trying to gain access to users accounts through these attacks, cyber criminals are also plaguing the online gambling industry with DDoS attacks, aimed at taking down entire websites in one go. A DDoS attack makes a network or internet resource unavailable to its intended users by disrupting the services of a host connected to the Internet. It floods the host with thousands of superfluous requests in order to overload the site, forcing it to slow and eventually become inaccessible. In fact, for the past decade, DDoS attacks have consistently looked to disrupt the online gambling industry by overloading sites with huge amounts of traffic. Moreover, Akamai’s State of the Internet Security Report for Q4 2017 revealed that nearly 80% of all DDoS attacks were directed at the gaming and gambling industry.

In order to mitigate these attacks, operators must do more to convince users that they’re able to manage any significant spikes in traffic, and that credentials remain secure. Without this, it’s likely that a data breach will discourage users from trusting and using online gambling services as a successful cyber-attack on a gambling site can leave long-lasting reputational damage to the business, as well as the initial financial costs of downtime and now fines such as GDPR.


Gambling businesses today are not only under pressure when it comes to cybersecurity, improving and delivering user experiences through web performance is also key. Yet, whilst the industry is implementing new technologies, such as the recent ability to bet in-play or live directly to casinos across the world, to improve user experiences, these developments have also increased the likelihood of criticism and risk for the industry. By catalysing an influx of new online users who favour experience, flexibility and accessibility over routine and nostalgia, these recent developments have increased the

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