Over 500,000 international visitors are expected to travel Rio for the Olympic Games this month. With this massive surge of visitors comes an ideal opportunity for cybercriminals to work their magic.
At the top of the list of potential targets are international tourists, multinational companies and internet users clicking and browsing Olympic-related news. With the games finally here we thought it would be interesting to look at the past and more recent data that reflects the turning focus of cyber criminals towards this global event.
History Repeats Itself
The Olympic Games has been a lucrative target for cybercrime in the past and will continue to grow at a rapid pace. Take the 2008 Beijing Olympics for example, cyber professionals worked hard to fight 12 million cyber attacks a day, whereas the London 2012 Olympics resulted in 11,000 malicious requests per second and 212 million malicious connection attempts.
Security researchers predict that the games in Brazil will be the ultimate jackpot of all the Olympic events worldwide. As athletes fight to make it to the finish line, hackers will be breaking world records cashing out from their sophisticated scams. According to The Financial Times, Brazil suffers from the world’s second-highest incidence of online banking fraud and ranks fourth internationally in terms of monetary losses to cyber crime.
A key indicator of what’s to come can be assessed based on the sheer volume of malicious domain registrations in Brazil and the introduction of a new Trojan virus called ‘Zeus Panda’. Malicious domain registrations in Brazil have increased 83 percent compared to 16 percent globally between April and June this year. As for the Zeus Panda virus, it first hit the market this July, targeting banks and online payments, appearing just in time for the Olympic Games.
Phishing Attacks Galore
One of the major threats to this year’s Rio Olympics is phishing emails. Scammers are expected to design malicious emails and target websites, in order to gain access to victim’s personal data and financial information. These scams may come in the form of Olympic related fraudulent emails, social media posts and downloadable apps.
Olympic fans should be especially cautious when buying tickets online. “Scammers may attempt to sell counterfeit tickets to lure victims to phishing websites.” warned researcher Thomas Fischer at security firm Digital Guardian. When victims fill in their personal information and banking details, hackers take this opportunity to steal money from their bank accounts.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is another avenue expected to be very popular amongst cyber criminals. Jay Floyd, head of fraud strategy EMEA, reports that fraud rates in Brazil are escalating at an alarming rate and that visitors to the Rio Games must do everything they can to protect themselves. One particular scheme includes, a card fitted with a doctored chip which can insert malware into legitimate card readers. This scheme can then transmit future card information and personal data to thieves, who can quickly clone the cards.
Another popular scheme that cyber criminals resort to in Brazil is ‘Chupa Cabras’, where crooks insert plastic skimmers into card slots of ATMs. You can eliminate the risk of being the next victim by shopping at retailers that accept chip-and-pin cards, locking your smartphone or tablet, paying in cash whenever possible and alerting your bank when traveling.
Free Wi-Fi… at what cost?
It’s no doubt that Olympic fans attending the games will be flocking to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots, in hopes of connecting to the internet to share their latest updates. Cyber criminals are aware of this high demand and will seize every opportunity they get to conduct fraudulent activity. “Crooks are expected to set up rogue Wi-Fi access points that surreptitiously log activity and data, including unencrypted usernames and passwords, or even inject malware into web traffic.”, warned Fischer.
So how can you protect yourself from being the next victim? If you have no choice but to use open Wi-Fi, then you can stay safe simply by using a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN will encrypt traffic even before it passes over the air to reach the access point and will ensure that you’re secure.