Threat Management, Incident Response, TDR

“Sharking” attacks target pro poker players

After a renowned poker player's hotel room was broken into, cyber criminals infected his laptop with malware in hopes of sabotaging his online gambling activities.

The pro, Jens Kyllönen, was the victim of the incident in September that researchers describe as “sharking,” targeted attacks against professional poker players, according to a blog post by security firm F-Secure.

During the European Poker Tour event in Barcelona, Kyllönen took a break from the action to return to his hotel room only to find his laptop missing. After leaving to ask his roommate if he had borrowed his computer, he returned to find the laptop back in his room.

Kyllönen noticed that the machine was sluggish and didn't boot properly, which prompted him to ask F-Secure to investigate. Researchers discovered a Remote Access Trojan (RAT)  that had “timestamps coinciding with the time when the laptop had gone missing,” according to the blog post.

The malware would allow attackers to control and monitor the activity on the machine remotely, giving them an advantage should they play Kyllönen in a game of online poker.

Researchers continued to investigate to find another victim in a similar attack and found that Henri Jaakkola's laptop, another professional poker player and Kyllönen's roommate at the time of the attack, was also infected with the same trojan.

According to the post, this method of attack can be compared to “whaling” attacks, which is a variant of spear phishing that targets "big fish,” or high-level personnel with access to critical data.

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