Where Things Can Go Wrong
The big game is here. Whether you’re going to the game or making your specialty deep fried corn dogs or chili cheese nachos, there are some cyber security concerns you should be aware of before you settle in for kickoff.
Cyber criminals are prone to look for susceptible audiences, which like on the holidays or people working under deadlines, take advantage of chaos, desperation and volume to find a victim.
The Super Bowl has all these elements. About 112 million people watched Superbowl LI last year , while an estimate puts the number of online streamers at 7 million – no word on how many streamed it illegally.
With a huge audience, drinks in hand, with a long day of festivities, there’s a minefield of cyber risks to be aware of during the big game. Here are a few tips and things to be aware of to make sure you have a cyber safe Super Bowl.
The biggest risk is counterfeit tickets. There are no “print at home” tickets. So, if you are going to try to buy last-minute, too-good-to-be-true tickets from an online seller, Ticketmaster has a few tips:
- Buy from an official source and be wary of “official sounding sources”.
- If you do buy from a third party site, beware of too-good-to-be-true deals. And don’t pay with cashier’s check, cash or money wires…or Bitcoin. Use a method that is traceable.
- Make sure the URL of the site you are buying from is not a look-alike or spoofed. Definitely be sure it is an encrypted site.
An email not to click: “Tell us who you think will win the Super Bowl and get a free gift card”. Be very wary of unsolicited contest emails using the Super Bowl in the subject or as an incentive (it’s generally illegal). If it does come from a trusted source, look at the domain at least three times. And make sure you know how to spot a phishing email.
Oh, another thing to be wary of – Roughly 5 billion was bet on last years game. Mostly illegally. Are you prepared to deal with the potential of your financial data being sold or phished through an illegitimate gambling site? On the illegal markets you have no way of protecting your data.
With the likes of Spectre and Meltdown, make sure you’ve updated your phone to the latest version of your software. Outdated software is a leading entry point for criminals.
Who goes to the game thinking they’re going to contract a virus? Luckily there are really good cyber security teams at the game monitoring all systems to catch things for you. 49% of fans connected to the free wifi last year at LI (a 41% increase year over year). And consumed a respectable 11 terabytes(or not – You are at a Super Bowl, put down your phone! Your social media posts may make us jealous). A reported 100,000 threats were reported – with only 19 considered serious – but at that scale, serious outbreaks could occur.
You really want to be safe? Stay off free wifi. Otherwise be very aware of the network you are connecting to. It is common for scammers to create a wifi network that looks very similar to the one you think you are connecting to. And you’re not only vulnerable to this threat at the big game itself, but also at your local sports bar or other venues, where free wifi may be easily hacked or left unsecure.
Worse than wifi – make sure you turn off your Bluetooth before you head to the game. You don’t want to make it too easy.
Anyone watching XVLII won’t soon forget the 15 minute blackout that could’ve been much worse than thought. With security getting in and out of the stadium as tight as can be, a malicious actor, maybe even a state actor, could attack the grid or security systems to create panic, and cause billions in damages. Generally speaking, it would appear that authorities are prepared for these eventualities and have contingency plans in place.
While TV viewership has remained pretty flat over the past decade, streaming is increasing. It’s not too far-fetched to predict that a record number of people will livestream the Super Bowl this year, but many may also be streaming illegally. Illegal streaming sites are notorious for all kinds of threats. Malicious links, phishing, exploits, ransomware…it’s all there, and only one innocent link-click or “free streaming software download” away. If you still want to go down this path, consider whether using an illegal streaming site is really worth the risk.
Post Game Show
Check If You’ve Been Hacked
You might not know it, but you might have an exploit lying on your phone or computer without knowing it. If you are using all the right technology, you are probably ok. But if you’ve been browsing odd sites trying to get more info on the special event (or replay any of the inevitable puppy-monkey-baby themed Super Bowl commercials), at least consider running a periodic scan shortly thereafter.
With That in Mind
A lot of really good people and companies are working to keep you and your devices safe this Super Bowl. If you’re cautious about where you connect and what you connect to, you can manage a lot of risk, but human error can always let you down. Simply being aware of these concerns can be enough to ensure you won’t fall victim to scams or threats during this year’s big game.
Some key takeaways:
- Keep your devices up to date
- Watch out for public wifi
- Turn off Bluetooth
- Don’t open that unidentified email
- Be sure to run regular scans
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is (excluding 4th quarter comebacks)
- Don’t eat too much and miss the aforementioned 4th quarter comeback
May the best team win (or whoever you’re cheering for!).