Super Bowl Is Prime Time For Cybercriminal Activity

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With Ad Age predicting that we will see more digital online advertising during the Super Bowl than ever before, you can expect people to by simultaneously watching the game while surfing the Internet at the same time. According to a ComScore survey about web use during Superbowl Sunday 2010, two-thirds of people who responded said they intended to use the Internet on that day. Over half of the responders said their primary reason for going on the web was to participate in Superbowl-related activities whether it was sending IMs or emails to family and friends about the game or to look up stats.

PC Tools senior online manager Eric Klein warns with increased activity online, one can expect cybercriminal activity to go up as well now that they can trick more people. The software security company has already noticed an increase in Superbowl-releated online scams. Often they download viruses to your computer without your knowledge or get personal information from you.

“The sheer volume of (online activity) is so huge it spikes around the game the same way that TV viewers do,” he explained. “It’s not necessarily a new threat that isn’t out there normally, but cyber criminals know that there will be more people online so many more criminals will be taking to the Internet.”

Among the common tricks they are already seeing is what is often called the “drive-by attack.” A link is placed in the comments or the post that actually leads to another site that might not be what you thought. PC Tools is especially seeing this activity on video sharing sites that are promoting Super Bowl commercials. A lot of videos will show a preview clip, and then ask you to click on another link to see more TV spots or a longer version. Once you click on the link, it might not be Superbowl content or even worse it will ask you to put in personal information so you can see the additional footage, which often dupes users.

Another common tactic is includes going to legitimate fan and sports websites and placing advertisements that link to malware. Often, Klein explained, they’ll feature attractive young cheerleaders to peak the interest of the male demographic that is surfing these websites. Other times, they’ll provide links that offer to stream the game online for free.

There are ways to protect yourself, however. Klein suggests an up-to-date anti-virus program that will let you know if something fishy is going on. Having a strong firewall up is like a defensive line protecting your information. Of course, be wary of anyone who asks you for personal information. “100 percent avoid it,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that there is a specific site that is more vulnerable than others,” he added. “It doesn’t take a cyber criminal much to hack into those sites and display some of their scams.”

More on TIME.com:

9 Online Scams & Cyber Threats To Avoid In 2011

New Year’s Resolution: Clean Up Your Google Search Results

‘Security’ That Makes A Grab For Your Wallet

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