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ThreatMetrix Cites Cybersecurity Risks of Football’s “Big Game” and the Sochi 2014 Winter Games

Posted January 30, 2014

Cybercrime a Top Concern as Consumers Access Content and Stream Video Across Multiple Devices

San Jose, Calif. – January 30, 2014 – ThreatMetrix™, the fastest-growing provider of context-based authentication and advanced Web fraud solutions, today announces several cybersecurity concerns associated with the upcoming major sporting events, football’s “big game” and the Sochi 2014 Winter Games. Both events pose significant risks for compromised Wi-Fi networks, ticketing scams and more.

Given increased spending during football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games, these events serve as an opportunity for cybercriminals to target spectators and businesses for personal profit. The National Retail Federation predicts that 116 million U.S. consumers will spend up to $12.3 billion on products and services related to football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games are the most expensive of any Winter or Summer Games in history, costing a total of $50 billion.

“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.”

Spectators Take Caution: Top Cybercrime Trends for Major Sporting Events

To protect against cybercrime risks associated with football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games, ThreatMetrix has outlined several cybersecurity threats consumers and businesses must be aware of. These include:

  • Compromised Wi-Fi Networks – For spectators attending the “big game” or 2014 Winter Games, there is an increased risk of shared Wi-Fi networks at the sporting venues being compromised by cybercriminals. For the Sochi Winter Games, a massive Wi-Fi network will support up to 30,000 attendees – including spectators, athletes, journalists and officials. Collectively, the Wi-Fi network expects to support up to 120,000 devices. Attendees must use caution and avoid accessing sensitive information, such as online banking and other accounts, on this network due to the risks of cybercriminals compromising the network or third parties intercepting network connections.
  • Credit Card Skimming – Another risk for attendees at each of these events is credit card skimming. Savvy cybercriminals can take advantage of consumer spending on such items as concessions, souvenirs and more at the venue and apply skimming devices to POS systems to intercept credit card information.
  • Online and Mobile Streaming – The official website for the 2014 Winter Games 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 sure to increase with the 2014 Winter Games. To protect against cybercrime risks, spectators must assure they only stream video from official event websites, as opposed to third party sources.
  • Malicious Links – During events such as football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games, increased online advertising spending and social media use pose a risk for links containing malware. For example, online advertisements may appear to link to an official Winter Games website and lead to malware being downloaded on a user’s device. Similar risks can occur on social media, as cybercriminals can create fraudulent Twitter accounts posing as athletes or journalists reporting live from the events and post malicious links, leading to consumers unwittingly accessing compromised links.
  • Ticketing Scams – As with all significant sporting and other events in high demand, consumers must be wary of purchasing tickets from untrusted third parties and classified ad sites for football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games. Instead, perspective consumers should always purchase from official ticketing sources or legitimate resellers.

“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.”

While the massive Wi-Fi network is a new threat to this year’s Winter Games, ticketing scams have been a longtime risk for consumers and businesses during major sporting events. Examples of ticketing scams include counterfeits in the hands of scalpers at the venue, classified ad scams using public companies’ names and tickets sold at suspiciously high or low prices.

“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 must prioritize cybersecurity while cheering on their favorite athletes in football’s “big game” and the 2014 Winter Games, businesses must also do their part to differentiate between good and bad actors among the high volume of transactions surrounding these popular events. To do so, businesses can turn to an anonymized global data repository, such as the ThreatMetrix™ Global Trust Intelligence Network (The Network), to evaluate logins, payments, new account registrations and remote access attempts for validity. The most comprehensive global repository of identity and fraud data, The Network uses real-time analytics to protect hundreds of millions of users and data points each day from cybercrime.

About ThreatMetrix

ThreatMetrix secures Web transactions against account takeoverpayment fraudidentity spoofing, malware, and data breaches. The ThreatMetrix Global Trust Intelligence Network, which analyzes 500 million monthly transactions, provides context-based authentication and Web fraud prevention to help companies accelerate revenue, reduce costs and eliminate friction. ThreatMetrix protects more than 160 million active user accounts, 2,500 customers and 10,000 websites across a variety of industries, including financial servicesenterprisee-commerce, payments, social networks, government, and insurance. For more information, visit or call 1-408-200-5755.

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