Sports fans everywhere look forward to mid-March for the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. However, it’s not just college basketball fans that look forward to this time of year. Cybercriminals use March to launch malicious campaigns in the hopes of gaining access to personal information from unsuspecting fans. Let’s take a look at the most popular techniques cybercriminals use to gain access to passwords and financial information, as well as encourage victims to click on suspicious links.
Online betting provides cybercriminals with a wealth of opportunities to steal personal and financial information from users looking to engage with the games while potentially making a few extra bucks. The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that consumers will wager $8.5 billion on the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. What many users don’t realize is that online pools that ask for your personal and credit card information create a perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to take advantage of unsuspecting fans.
In addition to online betting scams, users should also be on the lookout for malicious streaming sites. As fewer and fewer homes have cable, many users look to online streaming sites to keep up with all of the games. However, even seemingly reputable sites could contain malicious phishing links. If a streaming site asks you to download a “player” to watch the games, there’s a possibility that you could end up with a nasty malware on your computer.
Ticket scammers are also on the prowl during March, distributing fake tickets on classified sites they’ve designed to look just like the real thing. Of course, these fake tickets all have the same barcode. With these scams floating around the internet, users looking for cheap tickets to the games may be more susceptible to buying counterfeit tickets if they are just looking for the best deal online and are too hasty in their purchase.
So, if you’re a college basketball fan hoping to partake in this exciting month – what next? In order to enjoy the fun that comes with the NCAA tournament without the risk of cyberthreats, check out the following tips to help you box out cybercriminals this March:
- Verify the legitimacy of gambling sites. Before creating a new account or providing any personal information on an online gambling website, poke around and look for information any legitimate site would have. Most gambling sites will have information about the site rules (i.e., age requirements) and contact information. If you can’t find such information, you’re better off not using the site.
- Be leery of free streaming websites. The content on some of these free streaming websites is likely stolen and hosted in a suspicious manner, as well as potentially contains malware. So, if you’re going to watch the games online, it’s best to purchase a subscription from a legitimate streaming service.
- Stay cautious on popular sports sites and apps. Cybercriminals know that millions of loyal fans will be logging on to popular sports sites and apps to stay updated on the scores. Be careful when you’re visiting these sites you’re not clicking on any conspicuous ads or links that could contain malware. If you see an offer that interests you in an online ad, you’re better off going directly to the website from the company displaying the ad as opposed to clicking on the ad from the sports site or app.
- Beware of online ticket scams. Scammers will be looking to steal payment information from fans in search of last-minute tickets to the games. To avoid this, it’s best to buy directly from the venue whenever possible. If you decide to purchase from a reseller, make sure to do your research and only buy from trusted vendors.
- Use comprehensive security software. Using a tool like McAfee WebAdvisor can help you avoid dangerous websites and links, and will warn you in the event that you do accidentally click on something malicious. It will provide visual warnings if you’re about to go to a suspicious site.