After completing the previous two articles about On-Line poker security, there were quite a few questions from readers that got me thinking about some areas that needed elaboration and possibly some viable, and free solutions, to help Internet poker players make their systems more secure by installing Microsoft Updates, if using Windows, and by suggesting a program that will handle and keep track of your passwords. This allows for the player to not have to possess a deep understanding of computers or operating systems and they do not have to make any alterations to their current operating system. If the previous two articles on this subject haven’t been read, or a refresher ‘course’ is needed, Part I can be found here and Part II can be found here.
There was no mention in the previous articles about system updates for Windows. The importance of these security updates cannot be stressed enough. There are several automated (or as automated as Microsoft can be) ways to receive these security updates or, if automatically downloading and installing is not preferred, then a notification can be sent to the computer. To choose the level of automation in XP, go to ‘start’, ‘control panel’, and then ‘Windows Updates’. You will then be able to choose when and how you would like updates installed.
In order to manually install these updates, go to http://update.microsoft.com/ and choose ‘express install’. This will list all security updates and critical updates. From here, choose to download and install the updates of your choice (should almost always be all of them) and the rest is completed by Windows. Make sure that your work is saved and be prepared to restart Windows in order for these updates to take effect. If these updates have never been installed on your computer before it could take a while, but after the first time, it usually will not take anymore than 20 minutes from start to finish.
Passwords were discussed in part II of the the previous set of articles. The ‘design’ of the passwords that are best to use are 7-10 characters, a mixture of upper case and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. This ensures that a dictionary word cannot be used. The use of a passphrase was discussed in order to make remembering the password easier to remember. Another solution, that was not discussed, was software that keeps passwords for the poker player of all of his accounts, whether they are poker, rakeback, etc… related, in an encrypted database. This encrypted database uses one password to be viewed. Of course, with this one password there is always the risk of someone finding this password out and having access to all of your passwords.
A solution to this is a ‘key’ that is placed on a compact disk/floppy disk, that can be used in conjunction with a password, or standalone, in order to open the database. This is ideal for those who want to have multiple passwords, user names, be able to create longer passwords, and be able to remember all of these details. One such program is KeePass.
This is an open-source program that is free, in all uses of the word ‘free’, that not only will hold your passwords, but can also create passwords, allow the user to copy n’ paste the passwords, and is only available on your machine; i.e. the passwords are not uploaded to a website. The program is very easy to install, allows for multiple databases, has an active forum, and doesn’t require changes to the operating system or extensive knowledge about how the program actually works (but since it is open-source, it is possible to view how exactly it works). The KeePass home page is located at http://keepass.sourceforge.net/ and can be downloaded from SourceForge.net (do not download from another location to be on the safe side).
The above two methods will not only help with securing your system while playing poker, but also help with all of your Internet security and can help prevent ‘leaks’ while you are going about your day to day computing.