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Risk of cyber threats doubles during UEFA Euro 2016

The 2016 UEFA European Championship more than doubled the risks for digitally active sports fans, according to a new report from Allot Communications Ltd. in collaboration with Kaspersky Lab.

The report titled 'Allot MobileTrends Report UEFA Euro 2016: How Sports Events Put Mobile Users at Risk' provides a great deal of insight into how major events impact the online behaviour of mobile internet users and increase the potential that they fall victim to cyber threats such as malware infection, phishing and ransomware.

Allot's report found that 17 per cent of mobile users showed little to no interest in sports apps or websites before a big game but became active sports fans during the games. Of these “casual fans”, almost 50 per cent adopted a behaviour profile similar to that of a sports fan with a high potential risk for malware.

The total number of sports fans using mobile devices at high risk for cyber threats also more than doubled during the games. Social networking and online sports betting were the two biggest factors to this increased cyber security risk.

Sports fans flocked to social media apps or websites during the tournament. The average time users spent on social media tripled when compared to their pre-tournament activity.

Alexander Karpitsky, Head of Technology Licensing at Kaspersky Lab explained how cyber criminals took advantage of users during big events saying: "Cyber-criminals often use big events to lure users with phishing emails and fake websites, exposing fans to intensified and new potential cyber risks. Users should be aware of potential threats and lookout when clicking on links, entering their credentials on websites or making financial transactions. We at Kaspersky Lab recommend sport fans take a proactive approach to their online security, especially when mobile, safeguarding their devices with IT security solutions at all times.”

From a business point of view, this activity is potentially putting confidential corporate data at risk. Yaniv Sulkes, AVP Marketing at Allot Communications commented on the enterprise security implications during the Euros: “As we’ve seen with this year’s Euros, a lot of the online security incidents are happening due to mobile users' risky behaviour triggered by major sports events.

"Organisations should be proactive and put more attention on safeguarding mobile usage, for example by deploying web security solutions. Such solutions provide comprehensive protection by scanning all mobile users web traffic and filtering out online threats such as malware, phishing and spam and controlling the applications and websites accessed by corporate users.

"A key factor that increases online risk is users' behaviour. Therefore, in addition to any security solution in place, organizations should also proactively educate their employees with guidelines on how to minimise their risk for falling a victim online.”

Image Credit: Bychykhin Olexandr / Shutterstock

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.