Card sharps get easy ride in Cyberspace

2019-03-07 08:04:19

By Kurt Kleiner Toronto GAMBLERS who place their bets with casinos on the Net could be unwittingly playing against cheats who can see every card in the deck. So says a computer security company that discovered a serious flaw in a popular online poker program last week. The bug has since been fixed, but such problems could make Internet gambling even riskier than the local casino, says Reliable Software Technologies (RST), the company near Washington DC that found the flaw. “Security is always harder than it sounds,” says company vice-president Gary McGraw. The problem was with a program called Texas Hold’em Poker made by ASF Software of Duluth, Georgia. The program used a predictable method to “shuffle” the deck. Some RST employees found out about the problem while playing the game online. The shuffling algorithm always started with the number of seconds since midnight to generate the “pseudo-random” numbers that determined the order of the deck. The RST staff cracked the system by looking at the first five cards showing in the poker game. When they had guessed the starting number that could generate those cards, they could synchronise the clock on their computer to within a few seconds of the clock on the poker-playing one. This narrowed the numbers down even further and they could predict every hand in every game. Thomas Forbes, president of ASF, says the faulty algorithm was used by mistake,