Brazil insecurity: How Olympic events will impact businesses in cyberspace

Aug. 4, 2016
It is buyer and administrator beware as scams, phishing attacks and heavy network activity lurk in the shadows of the Games

Recent headlines regarding the summer Olympics Games in Rio, which officially opens Friday, have been mostly filled with bad news. From the Zika virus keeping athletes at home to struggling local governments in Brazil not finishing venues or Metro line extensions on schedule, daily stories have warned the world to expect the worst.

To make matters worse, springtime stories of visitors getting robbed and crime statistics going up are raising alarms for many global travelers who are now headed to Brazil.

Nevertheless, optimists are pronouncing: “We’ve seen all this before. The show must go on.” Pointing to previous pre-Olympic troubles and the success of the last Soccer World Cup in 2014 in Brazil, an equal number of experts think most travelers will be fine and enjoy their visits.

So assuming that all goes reasonably well for physical security in the country, what about online risks for the rest of us that aren’t traveling to Brazil?

What steps should individuals and businesses alike be taking now to get ready for the 2016 Olympics?

Watch Out For Online Scams

Just as in other major sporting events, when the world is watching, the bad guys try to make a buck using time-tested (and updated) fraudulent means. These online trends almost always play out before, during and after the events. Cyber criminals are prepped for the excitement and hype building around these Olympic Games by infecting emails with malware, creating fake betting websites and increasing phishing attacks.

During the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brazil, the FIFA World Cup website was hacked.  Don’t be surprised if similar antics make the global headlines again with the Summer Olympics.

No doubt, similar hack attacks (and other shenanigans) happen during March Madness, The World Series, and other global sporting events. Still, the summer Olympics is only every four years – and this Brazilian Olympics seem to carry a few new twists and turns.

There have already been reports of fake Olympic tickets available for sale but expect to see much more as we head closer to August. Watch out for deals that are too “good to be true” to offer everything from T-shirts with medal winners on the front to hats and other merchandise.

Also, know who you trust online regarding websites that provide scores, betting or other Olympic sporting updates – from schedules of upcoming events to yesterday’s winners and losers.    

Potential Network Congestions Issues at the Office

Remember that, unlike four years ago, the 2016 Olympics in Brazil will be just one hour earlier than the Eastern Time Zone here in the US. This means that many sports events, which will be broadcast live on the Internet beginning this week, will be watched during work hours throughout the month.

The rise in the use of bandwidth to watch or merely monitor the games could slow down the office’s operational systems almost like a denial of service attack.

Questions to consider include:

  • Is your network ready to handle the load?
  • Do you plan to block this traffic and/or issue policies about watching the events during work?
  • Will you set up a common area or big screen TV during that can avoid an unexpected surge in network activity?

Note: Predicting which events will become viral on which days is very difficult before the games begin. Some unknown athlete may capture the hearts of America and cause an unexpected interest in watching a finals competition. 

Steps To Protect Yourself at Work and Home

First of all, be alert. Know who you are truly dealing with online. Make sure you are trained on how to spot phishing attacks and other online tricks.

Second, if you are buying online tickets for sporting events, concerts or other popular events, follow these tips for the second-hand market. Also, check out this McAfee list of ticket scams to watch out for.

Third, understand that this scamming trend is not new and not going away. As Trend Micro pointed out several years ago, cybercriminals have time on their side and are just waiting for you to let your guard down. If you don’t fall for tricks surrounding the summer Olympics in Brazil, the World Series or another major event is just around the corner. Also, look out for election-related phishing scams.

Finally, enjoy the games, but if you see something suspicious report it. There are plenty of places to go for more, and has a helpful list of tips and tools that I highly recommend. 

About Dan Lohrmann: Dan Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, and author. Lohrmann joined Security Mentor, Inc. in August 2014, and he currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for this award-winning security awareness training company. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers, and executives in the public and private sectors. You can follow Lohrmann on Twitter at @govcsoYou can follow Security Mentor on Twitter at @SecurityMentor.


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