Hackers Use Malware to Cheat at Online Poker

No need for a poker face when you can peek at your opponents' cards.

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Sep 18 2015, 3:56pm

Image: slgckgc/Flickr

Hackers have found an easy way of becoming online poker stars: peeking at their opponents cards using malware.

The malware, known as Odlanor, is programmed to take screenshots of a victim's hand while playing poker through the hugely-popular sites PokerStars and Full Tilt poker, according to a new report by the security firm ESET.

"After the victim has successfully been infected with the trojan, the perpetrator will attempt to join the table where the victim is playing, thereby having an unfair advantage by being able to see the cards in their hand," ESET researcher Robert Lipovski wrote in his analysis of the malware.

The virus has been spreading since March 2015, and has infected "several hundred users," mostly in Eastern European countries including the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, according to Lipovski. Lipovski called the malware "uncommon," given that it is specifically designed to target online poker players.

Victims, Lipovski explained, normally get infected by downloading other files not related to poker, or through poker-related programs, where Odlanor is hidden inside.

As security expert Graham Cluley points out, the malware can easily be used to steal files and other information.

"This isn't just a problem if you don't want to lose at online poker—there is also a danger that your computer and its data may be compromised in other ways," he wrote in a blog post. "After all, now a hacker has managed to infect your computer—do you think they are going to be happy just playing online poker?"

In fact, Lipovski wrote that newer versions of Obland also have "general-purpose data-stealing" functionalities.