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Soccer Fans Beware: Cybercrime Linked to 2010 FIFA World Cup

Soccer fans from across the globe will convene in South Africa this summer to attend the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Excitement for the event is gearing up, but fans should be warned that they aren’t the only ones looking forward to this historic occasion – cybercriminals are also thrilled by the possibility of taking advantage of the World Cup’s millions of enthusiastic supporters.

Cybercriminals will do anything to steal your personal information, and major global events provide them with an immense audience of potential victims. Research shows that rates of cybercrime skyrocket in the months preceding worldwide sporting events. Symantec, a leading internet security software company, discovered that cyberattacks increased by 40 percent during the 2006 World Cup and by 66 percent during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which kicks off June 11, is the next major happening that has grabbed the attention of cybercrooks.

Internet security experts have already identified millions of phishing emails and hundreds of fake websites associated with the World Cup. These scams promise a variety of goods and services – from game tickets to flights and hotel accommodations. Cybercriminals use these methods in order to trick victims into providing their personal data, including bank account information, passwords, and credit card numbers. Clicking on this type of scam can also cause you to download malicious software onto your PC.

One current scam is a fake email claiming that the recipient has won the 2010 World Cup Lottery (no such lottery exists), while another ruse offers fans the ability to watch games live online. Symantec has also discovered a botnet, a network of infected computers, built exclusively for the event.

To protect yourself from World Cup scams, follow these steps provided by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN):

  • Check with the event organizer, promoter, or venue where the event will be held to learn how and when tickets are being sold. FIFA’s website has specific procedures for distributing and validating tickets to the 2010 World Cup.
  • Be aware that the official logo and trademarks (or lookalikes) of the event can be imitated to try to convince you that a bogus website, or ticket, is official.
  • Read what others say about the seller. Search the internet to learn about other people’s experiences.
  • Be skeptical of sites that say that they “guarantee” tickets. Some companies sell package deals without having the tickets in hand. Even if the seller intends to get the tickets later, they may not be able to do so.
  • Always print a copy of your order for your files.

One more piece of advice – always educate yourself about common threats during major events and arm yourself with premium antivirus software, such as PC Tools’ Spyware Doctor with AntiVirus.

Additional sources: Scambusters.org, Enterprise Innovation, Times Online.

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