March Madness is right around the corner! Time to put together your bracket and prepare yourself for any security threats! That’s right, March Madness is another chance for cyber criminals to interfere with your fun and threaten your privacy. Being such a popular event (and one which involves online access and money) March Madness lends itself to being a target for attacks. You’ll mainly need to be on the lookout for phishing scams and malware infections. With so many people eager to get in on the sport, it’s easier for criminals to blend in.

If you are someone who participates in March Madness there are several things you need to be on the lookout for during the NCAA showdown.

Beware of Apps and Fake Sites

They may promise exclusive information about your team and their athletes, but they are probably more focused on your credit card information. Rule of thumb: always do your research before handing over your credit card information. One quick way to tell the real thing from the fake is to Google the name of the app or site plus the word ‘scam’ and see what others have to say about it.

March Madness

SEO Poisoning

Everyone wants their website to be the first to pop up in a Google search, and there are plenty of tricks to help tip the scales in your site’s favor. Cyber criminals know these tricks and will use them to get their phoney sites relating to March Madness up top. Some of these sites will be infected with malware which could affect your computer. If a site seems shady a) don’t click on it, b) exit out of the page as fast as you can.

March Madness

Phishing and Spear Phishing

Those who follow their brackets on popular sites such as Yahoo and ESPN are vulnerable to phishing attacks. (With Yahoo’s major data breaches this has become an even bigger concern.) Even if you’re just interested because of an office pull, cyber criminals are already creating phishing emails aimed towards you.

Malware Camouflaged as Streaming Video

It may seem like a miracle: finding a streaming video of the game you want to watch online for free. Now you can watch at work! Wrong, the NCAA has tight restrictions on streaming their games over the internet. If it doesn’t come from their own website, be wary. If a video seems too good to be true, it probably is. We recommend that you don’t even attempt to play a video that promises the game, but if you do, watch to make sure nothing is downloaded onto your computer.

March Madness

Strain on Network from Streaming Games

So you’re streaming the game from the NCAA’s website (good on you!) but others, who are trying to work, are experiencing slow internet speeds. Many workplaces suffer from people watching their basketball games and throttling internet connections. One way to help those getting real work done is to slow down internet speeds for streaming videos. This will still allow the videos to play without devoting as much bandwidth to viewers.

Infected Links Posted on Online Discussions

It’s common for those deeply involved in March Madness to rave and rant on the internet – we all love to discuss our passions with like-minded people around the world. However, this is the perfect time for cyber criminals to drop in a link to a malware infected site. As you know, beware of shady looking links and exit shady looking sites as fast as you can. Be careful of anything automatically downloading on your computer.

March Madness

March Madness is all about fun…and games. Don’t let your fun be cut short by cyber criminals. With anything that draws a big crowd you should be wary of criminal activity. This year March Madness starts the 14th and ends April 3rd. Remember our tips and you’re sure to stay clear of cyber attacks!

Meg Krafft

Digital Marketing Assistant at The Security Awareness Company
After starting out creating digital and print marketing for a real estate company, Meg now assists in keeping up the marketing needs for SAC. When not working she's probably watching a good movie or indulging in local art and music.