Pro Poker Player Left Irate After Laptop Infected With Trojan

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Jens Kyllönen furious at lack of police action after his laptop mysteriously gets infected during the European Poker Tour in Barcelona

A professional poker player is irate after a frustrating end to a long saga surrounding a remote access Trojan on his PC, which he believes was planted by crooks who broke into his hotel room.

During the European Poker Tour in Barcelona in September, Jens Kyllönen retired to his hotel room only to find his key didn’t work. Having received a new working card from reception, he returned to his room but was unable to find his laptop. That was bad news for someone who makes his millions not just at the table but online too.

After checking if his friend had borrowed the laptop, he returned to his room to find the PC had mysteriously returned. For some reason, Windows was not booting properly, and by now Kyllönen was more than a little suspicious.

Poker - Shutterstock - © KostsovDigital attacks on poker players

After contacting professionals at Finnish firm F-Secure, it was discovered someone had infected his machine with a remote access Trojan via a USB. This would have given the attackers access to Kyllönen’s machine from wherever they were operating.

Crucially for the poker player, it would have let them see his hand and potentially allow other players to gain an advantage over him.

“This kind of attack is very generic and works against any online poker site that we know of. The Trojan is written in Java and uses obfuscation, but isn’t all that complicated. Since it’s in Java, the malware can run in any platform (Mac OS, Windows, Linux),” F-Secure said in its blog post.

But Kyllönen was not the first victim of such a brazen attack. Another professional player, Henri Jaakkola, who stayed in the same room as Kyllönen, was hit by the same Trojan.

And things have not been resolved for Kyllönen  either. In a forum post today, he claimed he had been repeatedly told by Pokerstars, the competition organiser, that the police had been contacted, only to discover that they had not.

“To this day I still have zero proof any sort of authorities have seen this case, so if you end up in a similar situation, do not count on Pokerstars, contact the police directly. I however have absolutely no energy to do anything about the case anymore, I really just want to forget it,” he added.

Pokerstars had not responded to a request for comment on the situation at the time of publication.

It appears digital attacks are rampant in the poker community. “We have investigated several cases that have been used to steal hundreds of thousands of euro. What makes these cases noteworthy is that they were not online attacks,” F-Secure added, dubbing this kind of attack “sharking”.

Earlier this year, Masaaki Kagawa, prolific poker player and the 50-year-old president of IT firm Koei Planning, was arrested along with eight others, over an alleged spam campaign that was spreading Android malware to collect contact details from a victims device.

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