Hackers Target Laptops of High Stakes Player at EPT Barcelona

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Update 9/10/2013: Jens Kyllonen has posted a far more detailed version of the events that occurred over the two day period, which despite its length is a riveting must-read for poker players. Lee Jones also posted a follow-up where he clarified his initial statements and made it very clear that PokerStars is taking the matter extremely seriously.

original story follows

High stakes poker player Jens “Jeans” Kyllonen created a thread on the 2+2 poker forum on Thursday warning others of a potential scam taking place at hotels associated with the European Poker Tour in Barcelona.

Laptops said to be taken from rooms, possibly infected with malware

According to Kyllonen’s post, after returning to his room and discovering his room’s key card would not work he went to the front desk where he was issued a new key card. With working key card in hand Kyllonen’s return trip to his room became even more peculiar and distressing than the first when he noticed his laptop was missing.

Kyllonen then returned to the front desk and 10 minutes later he once again returns to his room to find… his laptop!

Several players appear to be affected

According to Kyllonen the same thing happened to Ignat Liviu (another high stakes poker player) and several other 2+2 posters have commented in the thread that they have experienced somewhat similar issues with faulty room keys, and that the issue may not be confined to the Arts Hotel where Kyllonen and Liviu were staying.

Early on in the thread PokerStars’ Lee Jones corroborated Kyllonen’s story and warned players to be extra vigilant and cautious with their computers.

Many details remain unclear

What precisely happened to his laptop (if anything) is still a mystery at this point –the disappearance and reappearance of the machine is very puzzling and tends to rule out a crime of opportunity like petty theft or even what we would consider a standard Trojan upload—Needless to say this has the NVG portion of 2+2 throwing everything at the wall from hackers with outposts in utility closets of the hotel to the NSA’s involvement.

Fortunately the full story should be hashed out relatively soon as Kyllonen has promised a more detailed post on the matter in a day or two, and Lee Jones stated that the hotel and the Barcelona police are looking into the matter.

Along with other recent hacking allegations (see thread here and here for two examples) this situation has once again raised the uncomfortable question of how to safely secure your computer and sensitive information at home or abroad; a problem that most of us fail to consider until it is too late, and one that is doubly important to online poker players who could lose five- and six-figure sums if their computer is compromised and they are “hole-carded.”

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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