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Unless you have the money and the time and an awful lot of both, you’ll likely be “attending” the Super Bowl and the Sochi 2014 Winter Games electronically. And accessing content and streaming video across a host of devices can pose significant risks in a number of areas from compromised WiFi networks to ticketing scams.
The National Retail Federation predicts that 116 million US consumers will spend up to $12.3 billion on products and services related to the Super Bowl and the 2014 Olympics Winter Games.
“Cybercriminals always go where the money is and the two major sporting events in the coming weeks are sure to be a goldmine for fraudulent activity,” said Andreas Baumhof, chief technology officer at ThreatMetrix. “As consumers make purchases and access information about football’s ‘big game’ and the 2014 Winter Games on more devices than ever before – including mobile devices, tablets and PCs, they must be vigilant of cybercrime risks and assure they only research and stream content from mainstream news sites or each event’s official website.”
Following are cybersecurity risks to be especially aware of during Olympics and Super Bowl:
• Compromised Wi-Fi Networks –Spectators at sporting venues face an increased risk of shared Wi-Fi networks that may have been compromised. For the Sochi Games, a massive Wi-Fi network will support up to 30,000 attendees – including spectators, athletes, journalists and officials. Together, the WiFi network expects to support up to 120,000 devices. Naturally attendees have to use caution and avoid accessing sensitive information such as online banking and other accounts. “For the 2014 Winter Games, the extensive Wi-Fi network poses more of a risk than in years past, because consumers access the network across several devices and have information such as banking credentials, social media logins and e-commerce accounts stored on their devices,” said Baumhof. “It is incredibly hard to make any Wi-Fi network secure and there is no surefire encryption method for preventing such networks from cybercriminal activity. My best advice is for journalists, spectators and others in attendance to avoid doing any personal or business transactions over such a large, unsecure Wi-Fi network.”
• Credit Card Skimming – Another risk attendees face is credit card skimming. Cyberthieves use skimming devices to compromise POS systems and intercept credit card information at concessions, souvenir stands and the like.
• Online and Mobile Streaming – The 2014 Winter Games official website will stream more than 1,000 hours of event coverage – totaling more than the two previous Winter Games combined. More than 1 billion spectators worldwide streamed content for the 2012 Summer Games and this number is certain to increase. Anyone watching streaming video should only stream it from official event websites and avoid third party sources.
• Malicious Links – Increased online advertising and social media also pose risks. For example, online ads may appear to link to an official Winter Games’ website but in actuality have the user loading malware to his/her device. When it comes to social media, cybercriminals can create fraudulent Twitter accounts posing as athletes or journalists reporting live from the events and post malicious links.
• Ticketing Scams – As with all events in high demand, consumers must be wary of purchasing tickets from third parties and classified ad sites. Better to stick to official ticketing sources or legitimate resellers than getting stuck. “If a ticket deal for a hot event such as football’s ‘big game’ or the Sochi Games seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is, and the ticket may not be authentic,” said Robert Capps, the senior manager of global trust and safety at StubHub, and an expert in online ticketing. “Specific red flags include tickets offered for sale for prices much higher or lower than other legitimate sites, and tickets that would otherwise be extremely hard to get. Fraudsters often mimic or impersonate legitimate companies such as StubHub, through online ads, and solicit payment through Western Union or other money transfer services. In the end, the consumer sends the money, and never receives the tickets.”
While consumers have to be aware of cybersecurity concerns, business, too, must also do its part to differentiate between good and bad actors among the high volume of transactions surrounding these popular events. For support, business can always rely on ThreatMetrix.