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As Rugby World Cup fever grips the nation, cyber experts sound warning

By Sameer Naik and Shaun Smillie Time of article published Sep 21, 2019

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The Rugby World Cup is finally under way, but be warned as cyber criminals are on the prowl and they will be preying on fans not just in Japan, but across the globe.

Whenever there is a major global sporting event, cybercriminal activity spikes, and already there are signs that the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be no different. Japan has put in place a number of measures aimed at preventing cyberattacks on their networks or visitors.

The problem is that many of these attacks will be focused on fans outside the country as they sit at their computer terminals and they will be faced with offerings that are well disguised and at times hard to identify. 

“Any event attracting visitors provides cybercriminals with the opportunity to take advantage of people’s curiosity and emotional state,” said cybersecurity expert Anna Collard, founder and managing director of Popcorn Training. 

“By using tactics such as phishing related to the event or search engine poisoning, the bad guys will lure people to their malicious sites.” Collard warned that some of these nefarious sites would pop up in a simple Google search. 

“They may also make use of sponsored links, redirects to their sites or attempt to infect legitimate websites. All with the objective to steal your money, your personal information or to infect your machine with malicious software,” she added. 

Where criminals will try to make a quick buck is by selling fraudulent tickets. The Japanese have warned visitors about this. But already there are sites online offering world cup tickets for sale.

Some are appearing on so called online market places, which resale tickets. Some of these online markets have been criticised for allegedly selling fraudulent tickets. “There is no quick buck or a super cheap airfare or rugby tickets during the world cup process. Unless your future brother-in-law skips his own wedding and offers you a ticket to the games in Japan, chances are you won’t be going,” said Wayne Olsen, security business unit manager at Datacentrix. 

Jetting off to Japan might have been  beyond the means of most South African Springbok fans, but what many might be tempted to do is use a streaming service to catch a game. “

Remember that the only provider with rights to stream the Rugby World Cup in South Africa legitimately is DStv. Any other online services offering free streaming may be dodgy. “As a rule of thumb, don’t trust anything that sounds too good to be true, and be extra wary of any ‘specials’ or freebies offered on social media – even if these come via your friends,” explained Collard.

The US Federal Trade Commission recently released an advisory regarding the dangers of using streaming devices. “Illegal, pirated content is nothing new. We’ve alerted you that websites offering free movies and TV shows can infect your computer with malware. 

But the landscape is shifting. “Purveyors of pirated content are now spreading apps and add-ons that work with popular streaming devices. If you download one of these illegal pirate apps or add-ons, the chances are good that you’ll also download malware,” the commission warned.

Many of these tricksters will use social engineering – the art of manipulating people so they give up confidential information. Collard explained: “Social engineering works by triggering people’s emotions and thereby suppressing their critical thinking. 

“They may use fake news about your favourite player or team, offer you live streaming opportunities or the ability to win tickets – all of which may trigger a fan’s emotions and likelihood to click.

Remember to always think before you click, and to be extra vigilant during this time.” To prevent becoming a victim, experts agree that the best line of defence is reputable endpoint security software loaded across all devices.

Then there is that old tested way of picking out a scam. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true... “If you will get an email message saying you have won a new iPhone, and you only have to pay 15 rand for the phone; it’s too good to be true, it is most likely a scam,” said Professor Basie von Solms, director of the Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Johannesburg.

The Saturday Star

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