With the 2012 Summer Olympics in full swing and everyone paying attention, it is important to remember that athletes are not the only group competing this summer. Another group, cybercriminals, is also chomping at the bit to take advantage of the games, which offer the perfect online environment for launching their attacks.
So, you’ll want to stay vigilant about Internet security and your online safety. To help you do just that, we’ve put together a list of the top cyber security threats to watch out for as you enjoy the games this summer.
Drive-By Downloads: This includes downloaded spyware, viruses or any kind of malware that installs itself on your PC without your knowledge. Drive-by downloads happen when you visit a corrupted website. They can either occur as a result of a malicious website that is posing as a legitimate site, aiming to provide Olympics information, or a trusted mainstream site that has been hacked. And it doesn’t take much for your computer to end up infected or compromised. All a hacker needs for you to do is just visit an infected website. In order to avoid this, make sure you have your antivirus software is up-to-date and in full force, and remember the official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is www.London2012.com.
Shady Links: Never-mind that Twitter expects a rise in tweets and advertising revenue thanks to co-hosting the official Olympic Twitter hub. With the shortened URLs that Twitter followers can use, it’s a lot easier for attackers to lure users to visit malicious websites and watch their malware spread. So, before you click, share, and possibly infect your computer and others, be sure to check out those tiny URLs with tools like longurl.org that will reveal where the shortened URL actually goes.
SEO Poisoning: When a major event or news item breaks, cybercriminals know most people log online to read more about it. During the Olympics, the compulsive checking of scores and the latest news brings plenty of opportunities for SEO poisoning. This is a technique where cybercriminals create malicious websites that harbor malware. They then manipulate search rankings so that these are the sites that pop up first when you search for a certain key word or phrase. When you click on these links, your computer becomes infected, giving cybercriminals access to your personal info and the ability to deploy viruses, etc. Avoid falling victim to this trick by only checking scores on legitimate sites versus clicking on the first result that comes up in your search.
Never-Ending Phishing Attacks: Attackers will get tricky, creating emails that look like they are official communiqués from Olympic Games related sites or even from your friends, asking you to click on a link to an exclusive video, or enter a contest. All you’ll get out of these is the risk of giving away your personal information. So be sure to avoid messages that claim you have won something related to the Games.
Social Media Dangers: This time of year, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are aflutter with Olympic shout-outs and the like. Unfortunately, cybercriminals use these popular sites as prime platforms to spread their attacks. Beware of sketchy links (see above) or unusual content posted by “friends” whose accounts may have been hacked. Flag any suspicious or inappropriate content and delete them – also remember to give your contacts a heads up if something seems unusual.
The online threats surrounding the Olympic Games are a clear and present danger. So the best thing you can do is to arm your computer with the most complete antivirus and firewall protection available, like ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus + Firewall. Next, take extra care to only download software from reputable sources, never reveal your private information to unknown entities and, finally, keep a close eye on all your online activities. You will then not only ensure that your computer runs smoothly – but help protect the online community at large – now and after closing ceremonies.