Four tips for a secure Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl viewers are turning to the Web during the game -- follow these tips to stay safe during the game.

This Sunday the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will go head-to-head in the Super Bowl. As people watch the game, many will be simultaneously surfing online to research sports trivia and view interactive content about the game. Of course, attackers will also exploit the popularity of the Super Bowl for malware, phishing scams, and other attacks, so beware.

[ See also: Super Bowl ads hit Web before the big game [video] and Super Bowl XLV: The technology behind the event and the Cowboys Stadium ]

A PCTools spokesperson e-mailed some insight on the subject, "Security experts predict record-breaking numbers of online threats and cyber attacks related to Super Sunday as compared to other holidays or events."

According to a comScore survey of online activity during the 2010 Super Bowl, two-thirds of respondents intended to use the Internet on Super Bowl Sunday to research players, teams, and other game-related information. With more widespread video streaming and other interactive online content, those numbers will likely increase this year.

"Whenever there is a major event, like Super Sunday, we see this kind of increased activity," said Stephanie Edwards, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing of PC Tools. "Fans and TV audiences want to enjoy the game while surfing game and commercials-related websites."

Here are five tips to consider for a safe and secure online surfing experience this Super Bowl Sunday:

1. Beware file sharing sites. Maybe you missed that Budweiser commercial, or you just can't get enough of the Doritos ad, so you think you'll go online to see if anyone has uploaded a clip. Be careful where you surf for such content, because attackers will prey on the heightened interest to spread malware. The vendors usually post their Super Bowl commercials online as well, so try sticking to the legitimate vendor site, or at least stay on Youtube and avoid file sharing sites.

2. Avoid pop-ups and rogue software. As you surf the Web trying to figure out when the Super Bowl last came to Dallas, you might be greeted with random pop-up alerts warning you of potential security concerns. However, unless the alert is from the security software you installed on your PC, odds are fair that the alert is the attack. Don't fall for rogue antivirus attacks. Just click the "x" to shut the alert box down. If you are concerned that your PC might be compromised, run a scan using your security software, or a free online tool like Trend Micro's Housecall.

3. Protect your PC. You should have some sort of security suite installed on your PC to guard against malware, spyware, spam, phishing attacks, and other security concerns. It is important to keep your security software up to date so it is able to detect and block the latest threats. Hopefully, though, your security software includes heuristic detection capable of proactively identifying new potential threats as well.

4. Update your browser. The browser is the portal to the Web. Attackers have become increasingly adept at finding weaknesses and exploiting security flaws on Web sites and in Web browsers, but at the same time the security controls in the Web browsers have improved dramatically. If you are using an outdated version of your Web browser, you are surfing the Web with your pants around your ankles and one hand tied behind your back. Whether you choose Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, or some other browser--download and use the latest version.

There you go. Drink responsibly, surf the Web securely, and enjoy the game. Go Lions! Oh, wait. Um, go Steelers, I guess.

This story, "Four tips for a secure Super Bowl Sunday" was originally published by PCWorld.

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