During our record-breaking ‘The Return of the Leaders and Legends’ webinar, 6 of the industry’s most successful leaders gave a fascinating insight into the hottest topics in iGaming. In a series of blogs we’re going to examine how these industry experts approach the most important opportunities and challenges, and why they choose to partner with Continent 8. We start with our Innovation Director, Leon Allen, who reflects on the discussion about cybersecurity.
The nature of cybersecurity is that it is constantly evolving as new threats emerge. But during 2020 the speed of change accelerated dramatically, both in terms of the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks. Speaking during the webinar, Microgaming CEO John Coleman, echoed the experiences of many global business leaders when he reflected on how the scale of the challenge had increased during last year.
He gave an excellent summary to explain the complexity of addressing security risks within a massive organisation which has development teams across 6 continents, with multiple companies, and hosting sites in multiple jurisdictions. ‘Traditional’ types of attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) continued, he said, but ransomware and Layer 7 bot attacks also posed a threat.
“I think it was exacerbated in 2020 with remote working,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of our organisations have rapid adoption of cloud technology and I suspect that adoption of cloud technology has come before the security teams have caught up. So, there are risks certainly there.”
With a partnership of over 20 years, we’re committed to working with Microgaming and all of our clients to develop technological capabilities to meet, and beat, these new challenges. Regarding DDoS attacks, we continue to see these as a substantial threat to the world of iGaming. For example, in Q2 2020 Continent 8 saw a 55% increase in cyber-attacks compared with the same period in 2019, and we mitigated the longest sustained DDoS attack (36.4 hours in Q4 2020) that we have ever seen.
To address the risks of the layer 7 bot attacks, last year we launched our newest product, Continent 8 Cloud WAF, which is powered by the cybersecurity experts at Fortinet. Our Cloud WAF product provides a complete solution against all known and zero-day layer 7 application attacks referred to by John.
We’re committed to providing cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions to the iGaming industry, and we’re planning to launch more exciting, innovative products this year.
During the webinar, John used an analogy which is helpful to anyone who is not an IT specialist. You can no longer rely on high walls to protect your house. It’s now essential to have bright lights, security patrols, bars on the windows, motion sensors, security patrols, alarms, and guard dogs.
That’s a good way to illustrate the heightened level of cybersecurity solutions we will be providing to ensure that iGaming businesses protect their mission-critical data and systems. It was great to hear John paying a warm tribute to Continent 8 and our partnership with Microgaming which spans more than 20 years. No matter how cyber threats evolve, our track record proves that we have the expertise to keep our clients one step ahead of the game as every new threat emerges.
To find out how we can support your business with world-leading cybersecurity solutions designed to meet the ever-changing demands of the iGaming industry, please contact our Sales Team.
Hear John’s summary on cybersecurity in the iGaming industry below.
Please check our ‘News & Blogs’ section soon for the next blog in this series.
You can find the full recording of our ‘The Return of the Leaders and Legends’ webinar here
In this blog, Justin Cosnett, Chief Product Officer at Continent 8 Technologies provides information on how we are enabling AWS Outposts for our customers.
Ordering an AWS Outpost is advertised as a partner or AWS led activity; certainly customers need to have identified and confirmed sufficient capabilities prior to placing an order, as well as meeting some AWS criteria. Until server form factor outposts are available (expected 2021); AWS Outpost is a full pre-built 42U rack of AWS proprietary equipment, with some very specific requirements (and even dimensions) to be confirmed. It’s worth briefly covering some of the aspects or considerations which C8 assists with through our enablement package.
Rack environment needs to be suitable, as you would expect for any computer equipment. In theory an AWS Outpost could be placed geographically anywhere; although as AWS-only supported hardware, it has to be cited within range of AWS personnel and parts.
Note: Some specific iGaming jurisdictions have been a challenge here, and we are keen to assist in overcoming this in some way, in the very near future.
Most of the requirements questions for a co-location provider like C8 are pretty standard response. In all cases C8 has a policy of ensuring minimum ASHRAE standards for any co-location we build, develop or partner in. However, there are questions which many co-location providers wouldn’t have in standard data sheets or RFI responses, and C8 is well versed in responding or managing these queries.
It’s worth noting that whilst the AWS Outpost rack is a relatively industry standard 42U height, many colocation facilities are setup with existing racks and containment to produce the most efficient airflow and PUE, (more often recently with 46 or 48U racks in-situ, and dual PDU). It’s necessary to confirm any size difference and containment works necessary to accommodate the AWS Outpost rack (80 (h) x 24 (w) x 48 (d) inches), and this may bear some cost or timescale, as well as ensuring sufficient space for delivery for final placement via loading dock and all areas between.
AWS documentation shows that Outpost comes in 3 “default” flavours per published details (5, 10 or 15 kVA), though actual power draw will differ by ordered configuration and utilization. There are very specific power feed and power connector options (8 in total published, redundant and non redundant single or three phase). In the US, for example, C8 have found requirements often result in selection of a single phase (delivered via 2-6 whips from above or below) being the main supported configuration because of the circuit voltage and frequency available by default in US facilities. This may be different in other geographies or even specific facilities. Again, additional power whips / upgraded power circuit breakers or specific power connector requirements may incur some cost or timescale.
AWS Outpost support single mode fiber (SMF) with Lucent Connector (LC), multimode fiber (MMF), or MMF OM4 with LC in 1, 10, 40 and 100Gbps port speed connections.
Currently (and this may change), an AWS Outpost – whilst having local gateway and load balancer features – by default requires a “Customer owned” local area network infrastructure in order to connect publicly and privately to AWS and the internet (Hence article diagram). This means customers are expected to either have a pre-existing network edge capability in situ, or one which will be installed to a separate rack on site, as the AWS Outpost cannot contain any non-AWS infrastructure, or indeed be accessed by any non-AWS staff for maintenance.
iGaming, where the Outpost is intended as a production or “back-end” infrastructure to satisfy geographic requirements; some customers don’t have or want dedicated owned local network infrastructure. In this scenario C8 can assist by provided the necessary network edge as a service (NEaaS), providing all of the functionality necessary to connect the AWS Outpost to the internet (in-jurisdiction and Tier 1 peering) and AWS (privately or publicly).
C8 are already able to provision direct private connectivity to AWS (and many other hyper-scale clouds) for our customers from any C8 source site. This service (C8 Cloud Connect) can be similarly delivered to an AWS Outpost via our MPLS backbone and interconnection to suitable AWS network edge, ensuring low latency, reduced jitter and no packet loss from source to destination and not subject to public surface area for DDoS attack.
With a bespoke hardware infrastructure stack, there are considerable preparation tasks and assessments and 3-party liaison before an order can be placed, let alone delivery and installation confirmed and completed. The C8 team are familiar with the necessary information to be provided (pre- and post- AWS order), regular calls with customers and AWS specialists, and also site assessments and validations necessary to ensure all preparations and information correct for a successful deployment.
As you would expect for a co-location provider for many years, C8 is well prepared to accommodate different or pre-built racks, having similarly delivered other racks, such as Infinidat, with a very similar process. However, C8 are also able to bring network, security and industry experience and expertise to support this growing hybrid cloud and cloud partner solution requirement.
For more information on how Continent 8 can support your cloud, connectivity and security needs, get in touch via email@example.com
Justin Cosnett, Chief Product Officer at Continent 8 Technologies. With 20+ years’ experience in the hosting and SaaS sectors in a number of customer facing roles, Justin has a strong technical background. He joined Continent 8 in 2012 and was Head of Solution Architect before being promoted to Chief Product Officer.
Six of the iGaming industry’s most successful leaders discussed the hottest topics in the industry in our ‘The Return of the Leaders and Legends’ webinar on 2nd February.
Watch the full webinar here (Spanish and Portuguese translated versions available here)
Powered by EGR, it attracted the biggest ever audience for one of their virtual events with more than 1,000 registered to watch. Following on from the success of our inaugural Leaders and Legends discussion at ICE London 2020, we went virtual this year and were delighted to welcome a panel of iGaming industry A-listers:
Here’s our choice of the top 5 takeaways from what was a fascinating debate.
All of the panellists acknowledged the challenges created by lockdowns, but they also agreed that 2020 had also been a valuable learning experience from a business and industry perspective. The impact of the pandemic drove all leading businesses in the industry to find new ways of working, and to think even more creatively about how to engage with customers – all of which will be taken forward. As in many other business sectors, the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the pace of change in all aspects of the iGaming industry. Reflecting on the past year, Jordan Levin said:
“It was a year of learning from a team perspective. No one had all the answers, and there was a lot of improvisation.”
He went on to explain some of the challenges that were also faced by leading businesses across the industry, such as how to bring in new employees and open new offices while everyone was working remotely. As you would expect from a panel of such successful business leaders, their ‘can-do’ attitude enabled them all to find answers to the unique challenges faced by their respective businesses, and even positive outcomes from their experience of the crisis. John Coleman, for example, spoke about learning to communicate far better and more effectively, and added that he and his colleagues had never been more organized than they were in 2020.
Looking ahead, there was a consensus that 2020 had changed the way that leading businesses in the industry will work in the future – and that a ‘hybrid’ model based on a balance of working in the office and from home will become the norm. It could also change attitudes towards recruitment. Talented professionals may have previously chosen not to take up certain positions if a condition of employment was relocating to another country – but the wider acceptance of remote working now gives much more flexibility for employees and employers.
Again, there was agreement among the leaders and legends that the pandemic had accelerated trends which were already emerging before it began. 2020 was a significant year for sports betting in the US in terms of it becoming more widely accepted by sports fans, leagues, teams, media and regulators. A great example which illustrates the accelerating pace of change was given by Matt King: “We rolled out two new states – in Virginia and Michigan – over the span of 18 hours, and I think when we started this journey in sports betting it took us six months to do the first two states.” Another interesting anecdote from Matt gave an insight into how the perceptions of sports betting are changing in the US, and how the industry is moving towards being part of the mainstream. “There are changes going on in terms of acceptance,” he said. “If you look at the first game back of the NBA after the pandemic shutdown in August, you had Charles Barkley talking about the FanDuel odds on the Turner pre-game show – that would have never happened the year before. So I think we are starting to see the gradual introduction of sports betting not just in the local sports conversation, but also in the national sports conversation which creates some really exciting opportunities.” Barkley, a Sports Emmy Award-winning analyst and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, agreed an exclusive multi-year partnership with FanDuel in December last year.
Shimon Akad said 2020 was a fantastic year for Playtech in the US, most notably because of their launch in New Jersey. He added that Playtech see the US as the biggest opportunity for online, anywhere in the world – and they expect the market to be worth tens of billions in the next five years or so. A key factor behind the rapid growth of the market, he said, was the fact that US players are already accustomed to eCommerce.
While the US will continue to dominate, Latin America, Canada and Eastern Europe were all mentioned as important emerging markets. The speed of development in all of these jurisdictions will of course be largely dependent upon creating robust but pragmatic regulatory frameworks. The panellists discussed their views on the challenges that regulators face in striking the right balance between responsible gaming, taxation, data security considerations, while creating a framework which allows businesses to thrive. Jordan Levin said that one of the most important factors when new markets are opening up was finding the taxation ‘sweet spot’ – high enough to generate meaningful income for the host jurisdiction, but low enough to make it economically viable for operators and suppliers. From a regulatory perspective, he added, it’s essential to have the right balance in place ‘from the get go’, especially regarding player protection. The best way forward, in Jordan’s view, is to be proactive and work with legislators, lobbyists and politicians, to ensure that regulations are set up in a responsible way for the short and long term – and that’s even more important in countries that don’t have experience in iGaming or sports betting.
Yaniv Sherman got the ball rolling on this topic, and he focused on why innovation is particularly important for the growth of the US market. The US, he said, was special in the sense that while it’s at an earlier phase in its development compared to other regulated markets, it’s also the world’s most highly developed eCommerce market. Consumers are used to seamless, frictionless product experiences and this creates a necessity for innovation in order to match their expectations – but it also creates an opportunity to exceed those expectations by creating ground-breaking products. Yaniv explained: “Most of the products in the marketplace today are, in my opinion, the result of a rush to market and are sort of adaptations to a more European classic sportsbook. I think the Daily Fantasy is much closer to what an American product looks like in that regard, and this creates an enormous opportunity to innovate. Also, with the finance applications like Robinhood it looks like there’s an overall convergence between betting and trading – if you want to look at custom-built products that are tailor made for the US consumer we should take a page off of those and have a look at the good things about the customer experience and the language they speak. There are also some challenges around that – regulation on the one hand because we’re in a highly regulated space, but on the other hand the customer experience of opening an account and playing our products can be rather cumbersome due to some of those constraints. So I think we need to develop a more frictionless experience.”
Matt Kalish said he expects to see a lot of growth in in-play betting in the US very soon, with more TV networks starting to integrate that into coverage of live sports to give consumers the type of in-game experience they’re looking for.
Shimon Akad said that leading businesses need to give their product and technology teams the time and resources to experiment so that they can generate the ideas that will lead to the next level of innovation – just as Playtech do with their innovation lab. He said: “Sometimes those ideas will fail because by definition innovation has an inherent risk, but a lot of the time they will come up with amazing things.”
John Coleman led the debate on this subject. He said: “As we look at new and emerging regulated markets – and even changes within existing regulated markets – the more changes there are in terms of diversification creates a real technological challenge. For my organisation I feel that’s our single biggest compliance risk right now, just how to stay compliant across multiple regulated markets. All of these regulated markets have the same reason for being, which is to protect their players, which all of us on this webinar are hugely supportive of. But it would be nice if there was more co-ordination amongst jurisdictions – it would certainly make our lives easier and I think it would protect the players even more than they are now.”
Moving on to look at the main challenges from a security perspective, he said: “We [Microgaming] have development teams across six continents, we have multiple companies, and hosting sites in multiple jurisdictions. The security landscape and risks grow even greater every day. Traditionally it’s been DDoS attacks, which we’ve all faced – and thankfully we have a great partner with Continent 8 who help us mitigate those attacks every single day. But now we have to be aware of ransomware attacks, and that’s been exacerbated in 2020 with remote working. Obviously, a lot of organisations have rapidly adopted cloud technology, and I suspect that adoption has come before their security teams have caught up, so there’s certainly a risk there.”
He concluded with a neat analogy for non-IT specialists: “I sit down with our security team a lot, and the way they explain it me – as an accountant – is that we can no longer rely just on high walls to protect your house. Now we need bright lights, security guards, bars on the windows, motion sensors, security patrols, alarms and Doberman Pinschers.” In reality, that means adopting best practice regarding security – an example of that is Microgaming achieving the ISO 27001 certification. Working with the right people, the latest technologies, and always ensuring that you are following best practice is the key to effective security, he concluded.
Speaking about Microgaming’s long association with Continent 8 – which spans more than 20 years – John said:
“We see Continent 8 as family. There isn’t a market we have entered without Continent 8, and there isn’t a market that we would enter without Continent 8 – it’s as simple as that. They are a core partner for our business and I’m looking forward to entering many, many more regulated markets side by side with Continent 8.”
We have only listed the highlights – there were many more talking points so please click below to watch the webinar in full.
A huge thanks to our panellists, and to Micky Swindale (Partner, KPMG Global Gaming Team) whose legendary status in the industry made her the ideal choice as moderator, EGR, and of course everyone who attended the webinar.
View the webinar with Spanish subtitles here
View the webinar with Portuguese subtitles here