Stay clear of Summer Olympics scams with these tips

Jul 24, 2012 11:09am


By Emily Eckland, Managing Editor of Digital Media
The 2012 Summer Olympics start this week in London. And while athletes from around the world compete for the gold, scammers may be using the Olympics to win their own medals in cybercrime.

There are many ways cyberthieves could use the Summer Games to take advantage of people and steal personal or financial information. They could spam your inbox with Olympics-related news and offers. Or lure you in with ads and websites claiming to have tickets to the top Olympic events. They could also poison search results with malicious Olympic-related websites.  

We partnered with iKeepSafe to give you ways to keep yourself and your family safe from Olympics-related scams this summer.   

The first step to protecting yourself is to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Here are other tips:

Keep a Clean Machine

  • Keep security software current. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet. Secure your computers, smartphones and other Internet-enabled devices with anti-virus, anti-spyware, and tools.
  • Avoid clicking on pop-ups, even to close them. Instead, close pop-ups from the system tray area with a right mouse click.

When In Doubt, Throw It Out

  • Be wary of emails sent to your inbox addressed to “Sir/Madam.” Oftentimes, spammers will send out emails in mass quantity and not take the time to include your name. Although not foolproof, emails that are addressed to you personally are typically safer.  If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Slow down and hover. Links to websites can often lead to bad places. Use your cursor to hover over a link to view the full address before clicking, especially when searching for Olympic-related pages. Avoid the danger by typing the web addresses into a new browser tab rather than clicking links.
  • View video uploads carefully. Attackers may embed malicious software in new video players and video. Always view video from a trusted source.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Remind kids and teens to keep personal information private. Help them connect without revealing information like their full name, birthday, address, and phone number.
  • Only give your mobile number out to people you know and trust. Be wary of Olympics-related text messages and phone numbers. A phone number with 070 may look like a valid UK number; but 070 numbers are “follow me” numbers that can be redirected anywhere and cost you upwards of $.50 per minute, according to Sophos’ Naked Security Blog.

Be Web Wise

  • Think before you act. Be wary of online messages or email that implore you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels suspicious, avoid it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
  • Look for errors. You can often detect spam because of spelling, grammar, and layout flaws. If you see obvious errors, you know it’s a fake. But lack of errors doesn’t make the offer legitimate. Smart scammers can spell, and they can make a fake email look as good as a legitimate one.

Be a Good Digital Citizen

  • Don’t follow the crowd. Scammers lurk in our social media circles. Take caution when you see a sensational headline. You may be passing malware to all your friends.
  • Don’t share spam. Whether it’s a ‘thought of the day’, ‘amazing pictures’, or anything else conjured up by the Olympics, if you don’t personally know the sender of the email it may be a scam designed to collect the email accounts – and relationships – of everyone you share it with.

For more ways to stay safe online, visit http://www.ikeepsafe.org/digital-citizenship/achieving-digital-security/ and http://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/