July 20, 2012, 5:08 PM — A week from today all eyes will be on London and the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics. More than any prior Olympic games, the 2012 London Olympics will be watched and followed over the Internet and on mobile devices from around the world.
Of course, the cyber criminals know this as well, and cyber criminals tend to be adept at capitalizing on breaking news and major events as bait for unsuspecting victims. ThreatMetrix published a list of the top threats users should be aware of. If you want to enjoy the London Olympics safely from your PC or mobile device, avoid these five security risks:
1. Shady Apps
There will be a variety of apps available for the various mobile platforms to help people view Olympic events, keep track of medal winners, access statistics and relevant information, and more from their mobile devices. As we have seen time and time again, though, there are shady third-party apps that surreptitiously access information from mobile devices without explicit permission, or reach out to everyone in your contacts to get them to download and use the app as well. Pay attention to the permissions being requested by any apps you install, and keep an eye on any suspicious activity. Better yet, stick to official Olympics apps, or at least apps from established, trusted developers.
2. Drive-By Downloads
With the right vulnerability to exploit, attackers may be able to install malicious software on your PC just by getting you to visit a website. In fact, the attackers might not even have to get you to do anything if they can manage to plant the malicious exploit on a legitimate site. Just by visiting a website providing Olympics coverage or information, it's possible your PC could end up infected or compromised. And, no, the risk is not limited to the Windows operating system.
3. Hidden Links
If an attacker does want to lure users to visit a malicious website, it's a lot easier these days than it used to be thanks to shortened URLs. As people share news and information about the London Olympics via Twitter, the associated links will inevitable be shortened using services like Bit.ly--obfuscating the true URL. There are tools out there that will let you see where that shortened link goes before you click it, but most people will simply click away, possibly ending up at a malicious site that could infect or compromise their PC.