Welcome to the casino! Grab a drink, pull up a seat, and see all the wonderful, magical games you can play if you want to gamble with your data and your online security — for literally no payoff. At all.
Comfortable, you card sharks and high rollers? Then prepare your chips — which in this case, would be your valuable data, such as credit card details, bank account numbers, or even your identity — and ante up, because here are just some of the games the house is offering today.
1. Create or sign in to random accounts
If you like big risks with no rewards, then this is the perfect way to spend your time. All you have to do is start making accounts on random websites, or log in to existing accounts using links you find online. Stay persistent and headstrong, and you’ll lose all your chips in no time.
Here’s the skinny: hackers, scammers, and the like are making 1.4 million new phishing sites every month, with the hopes of tricking you into handing over valuable login credentials or account information. Most of them aren’t up for very long, but by the time they’re caught and pulled down, they’ve usually snagged an unlucky soul or two.
When you consider that there are less than 200 million active websites on the internet as we speak, and most of them have accounts you can make or log in to, that means your odds of trying to log in to a fake website are about…
The same odds you’ll run into an 11-year old named David.
Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But the house has a few tricks up its sleeve to tip the odds in its favor. For example, you might get an email with an oh-so-tempting offer or an “urgent warning” that requires your immediate attention… and tricks you into logging into a fake version of a familiar login screen. We call those “phishing emails” — they’re more rancid and nasty than the week-old shrimp in a casino buffet, and they’re usually all that crooks need to significantly raise the odds you’ll click something bad.
But you don’t look satisfied. Maybe you’re looking for something a little more high-stakes?
2. Open random emails
Ah, yes, a beloved classic. People have been gambling with their email accounts for as long as they’ve been around, but these days it’s never been easier to ruin your day with a single wayward click.
That’s because emails (including the aforementioned phishing emails) are hackers’ favorite way to spread the seeds of their terrible practice. In fact, email is responsible for 90% of all malware infections, making it a clear go-to for bad people trying to do bad things. It’s been reported that 1 in every 50 emails sent today contains some kind of malicious content, so if you were to start opening random emails, the odds of any one being infected with malware would be about…
About the same odds that you’d qualify to join Mensa, the high IQ society.
The “good” news is that with the rise of built-in spam blockers on the most popular email providers, you’d really have to go out of your way to get infected by most of these emails. The bad news is that sometimes hackers get really clever with their emails, and make them convincing or authentic-looking enough to not only trick the spam filter, but your own better sense. Which is why whenever an email urges you to click a link, a button, or download an attachment that you don’t recognize or understand, you’re better off avoiding it altogether… at least, if you’re not in the mood to gamble.
3. Download random apps
Smartphones are pretty popular these days, as we’re sure you’ve noticed. And since you can do everything else on your mobile device, why not gamble with your data?
There’s nothing people love more than a good app. Be it a game, a new way to track your calories, or a cheap deal for your favorite pancake house, there’s an app for pretty much everything… and hackers have noticed. That’s why they flood the market with apps whose sole purpose is to trick you into downloading them so they can infect your device and steal everything valuable you keep on it.
It may seem like an exaggeration, but it’s all too true: 24,000 malicious apps are blocked every day on Android app stores. If we assume that Google catches 99% of all malicious apps that flood their storefront, and when you consider that Google Play, on average, gets 6,140 new apps every day, your odds of downloading malware that managed to slip through the cracks would be...
Better than your odds of meeting your soulmate on a blind date.
Of course, this statistic hinges on the assumption that 1% of malware manages to slip through; realistically, that number is much smaller. However, malware that does manage to slip past tends to do quite well for itself before it’s finally caught, so your odds of getting infected by randomly installing apps may actually be higher.
But are these numbers still too small for you? Don’t worry, we’ve got even riskier thrills up ahead.
4. Visit random sites
Is normal roulette losing its thrill, but you’re not quite ready to go full Russian on it yet? Then you’ll want to give this bad boy a spin.
Malware is everywhere on the internet: disguised in our downloads, embedded in our emails, and of course, weaved into our websites. Start browsing carelessly and it’s only a matter of time before you run into a website that’s got a nasty virus that could — and probably will — spread to your PC or phone. In fact, there are about 18.5 million websites infected with malware at any given time. With less than 200 million sites active on the world wide web right now, that means if you start checking out every link you see, your odds of being infected with every click would be about…
Slightly better than the odds you’d be accepted into Harvard.
Those are some pretty scary odds, right? But I’ve got bad news for you thrill seekers out there: most of those 18.5 million infected websites are small, local websites that have poor security and are run by amateurs, not the kind of stuff you typically find on the first page of Google. So if you really want to live on the edge, check out the website for your local church and go wild.
5. Use public Wi-Fi
Here’s the big money risk, in case the earlier risks are just too tame for you.
When you’re traveling (or just relaxing in a cafe), you’re probably pretty happy to stumble upon a free Wi-Fi hotspot. After all, no one wants to pay for internet access, and the convenience of public Wi-Fi makes it too good to pass up, right? Everyone knows that… including hackers who are looking for an easy mark.
Because most open Wi-FI networks are unencrypted, you can easily connect to them — and hackers can easily spy on what everyone on the network is doing (with a little know-how and the right tools). That means hackers could see what you’re searching for, what sites you’re visiting, and even what you’re typing (passwords and bank info included!). If you just start connecting to every public Wi-Fi connection you can find, your odds of finding one that has literally no security will be about…
About the same odds that someone over 65 can’t swim.
Now that’s a scary number. And unfortunately, there’s no silver lining on this one. Unencrypted public Wi-Fi networks are always a risk, and if you ever connect to one, your only real hope is that no hackers happen to be nearby. Because if they are, there’s nothing stopping them from taking a look at everything you do when you’re connected. (Unless, of course, you use a VPN.)
Any of the above gambles tickle your fancy? Then go ahead, start playing. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain, but… oh, right, you have AVG, don’t you? So I guess you’re not the gambling sort... but when it comes to games like these, the best way to win is by not playing at all.