By Thom VanHorn, Sr. Director of Marketing at CounterTack -
The Super Bowl is only 5 days away. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are going for their record sixth victory in the big game. If you’re not from New England, you’re probably rooting against the Patriots. But if you are from New England…like I am, you’re no doubt hoping for them to cement their reputations as the greatest coach and quarterback of all time 😊
No matter who you are supporting, there is one group that we can all agree to root against – the hackers and criminals who use major events to perpetrate cyber attacks. Like most major events, the Super Bowl has historically resulted in an increase in attempts to defraud the public. Phishing schemes increase, rogue Web sites appear, and hackers feast. So as sports fans who will be visiting Super Bowl related Web sites – or maybe event journeying to Minneapolis, now is a good time to revisit common cyber threats and take proactive action to minimize their risks.
Let’s look at 3 common cyber threats that typically accompany events like the Super Bowl.
Threat #1: Phishing.
When the Super Bowl is imminent, we always see related web sites and social media accounts popping up. Unfortunately, cyber criminals also take the opportunity to create fraudulent accounts and use the popularity of the big game to attract followers. They then use the data and emails obtained from those followers to launch phishing attacks and obtain sensitive data such as account passwords, personal ID numbers, bank account numbers, etc. that can then be used to steal from the victim or install malware on their computers.
To avoid phishing attempts, be suspicious of any email that asks you to enter or verify personal information, through a website or by replying to the email. And do not click on links in the message. If you are unsure or think the message may be legitimate, go directly to the company's or contact the company directly to see if the request is legitimate.
Threat #2: Unsecured Wi-Fi
When travelling to another city, guests will inevitably look for local Wi-Fi connections to avoid fees. The obvious solution is to seek out and connect to free local wi-fi connections. But few things in life are free, and what looks like a great deal could end up costing you much more than anticipated. Cyber criminals know your desire and see an opportunity. Fake wifi hotspots are often created by attackers and used to steal user information as it passes across the network. In the context of the Super Bowl, they may create spots with names like “Patriots Fan WiFi” or “SB 52 Official WiFi.” If you see a hotspot that is not password protected, avoid the temptation to save money and instead take a path to minimize your risk. And remember, even legitimate public wi-fi networks come with a risk because they are unsecured. If you can access them, hackers can also access them and potentially steal your information. Only log on to legitimate wi-fi hotspots that are protected by passwords provided to you by the institution that owns the connection.
Threat #3: Unattended, Stolen, or Lost Devices
The third threat has been around as long as people have owned and carried portable technology; the physical loss of a device. Whether you are traveling to the Super Bowl or any other vacation destination, you will certainly be traveling with your mobile phone. In addition, you will likely be traveling with a tablet or laptop computer. You might even be travelling with a work computer that contains sensitive information or intellectual property. Major events inevitably come with an influx of pickpockets and thieves. So, use common sense and make sure to keep these devices on your person and if possible, hidden. If you are staying at a hotel, use the safe in your room or at the front desk when you venture out. Before traveling make sure that you have secure passwords on all devices and if possible, install software that can remotely wipe your device if it is lost or stolen. Tracking software provided by many providers may also help you recover a misplaced device.
I’m not telling you anything new. The common-sense approaches discussed here are familiar to most of us. But knowing something and doing something do not always go hand-in-hand. So before you travel, remind yourself of these best practices, stay safe, and enjoy the Patriots victory.