Don't Let Olympics Fans Put Your Network at Risk

Sue Marquette Poremba

You may have heard: The Summer Olympics is about to begin. Chances are you may have at least one employee, probably more, who are like my friend Julie. She is addicted to the Olympics and wants to know what is happening with every single event, even if it is a sport that she has barely heard of. Julie, however, works from home, and she will be able to catch Olympics action on her TV. Most people don’t have that luxury, so they are going to be checking in on the action in the middle of the work day in the U.S.

In fact, a new survey released by SpectorSoft found that nearly 40 percent of employees say they plan to follow the Olympics on work-issued devices, and if Olympic events occur during work hours, the employee intends to watch them via the Internet. And nearly 40 percent of respondents say their employer has policies against using a work-issued computer for non-work-related activities, or they do not know if there is a policy in place. In other words, if they are determined to watch the Olympics, they are going to do it, no matter what.

But an event like the Olympics is prime time for bad guys who use social engineering to spread malware. And 40 percent of your employee base isn’t going to think twice about putting your network at risk so they can keep track of fencing, the high jump and beach volleyball. Apparently, then, you can have all kinds of policies in place, but those policies mean little to nothing to employees, at least when it comes to their Olympics viewing. I’m not saying this is right, but this might be a case where if you can’t beat them, at least prevent them from doing something stupid that could end up causing a lot of harm.

ThreatMetrix released its tips for being computer safe during the Olympics — tips that I think are worthy of sending along to employees as a reminder on how to be safe online, especially during an event where cyber criminals will be setting up fake sites to lure unsuspecting viewers. The tips include:

  • Be aware of third-party applications to view the Olympics on smartphones and tablets, as these can be malware-laden.
  • Beware of drive-by downloads on Olympic-focused websites. It would be a good idea to make sure security-related software is updated and all patches for browsers and applications are installed.
  • Watch out for phishing attacks. The bad guys will try to lure Olympics fans into clicking on malicious links.
  • Use care in searching for Olympics coverage. Search-engine poisoning will be rampant, with sites that will look legitimate in the search but will send the user to a malicious site.

As Andreas Baumhof, chief technology officer, ThreatMetrix, said in a release:

Cybercrime today is so advanced that in many cases users are completely unaware they are being attacked. The Olympic audience needs to be vigilant when browsing the Internet and researching the games.

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