McAfee: Olympics-Related Cyber-Scams Threaten Public

A poll done for McAfee found that only 13 percent of the British public are aware of cyber-threats connected to the Summer Games.

England's readiness to host the 2012 Olympic Games might not be the only thing being called into question. Security technology vendor McAfee is suggesting that U.K. residents aren€™t taking the threat of cyber-crimes seriously enough.

Such major sporting events tend to attract a variety of scams and thefts, from bogus ticket sales to theft of mobile devices, all designed to steal people€™s money and personal information. However, according to a survey conducted for McAfee by OnePoll, only 13 percent of the British public is concerned about cyber-threats connected to the two-week Summer Games.

In addition, many of those surveyed were not aware of the risks associated with high-profile sporting events like the Olympics or the effect those threats could have on them, according to the OnePoll survey, announced July 31. The firm in June polled 2,000 British citizens 18 years old or older.

British officials have taken steps and issued warnings around the Olympics. The U.K. agency National Security Strategy has warned about cyber-attacks related to the Summer Games and similar major sporting events in England and around Europe. At the same time, Jonathan Evans, head of England€™s MI5 law-enforcement agency, reportedly said that the country is taking necessary security steps to guard against cyber-attacks on individuals and businesses, but warned about a high level of attacks coming from not only criminals but also enemy states outside the United Kingdom.

Security technology vendor Venafi is estimating that 67,000 mobile phones will to be lost or stolen during the Olympics, with about 214.4 terabytes of potentially sensitive data also likely to be lost or stolen€”about the equivalent to 200 million books' worth of data. And that covers only mobile phones, not other mobile devices like notebooks and tablets, according to Venafi.

McAfee officials said they have detected and stopped a number of cyber-scams involving ticket sales, bogus sports-themed lotteries and events, all of which they said highlight the need for greater awareness among the public. Many surveyed by OnePoll said they were taking some steps to protect themselves, though others were unaware or indifferent to the threats.

€œThere are some very simple steps that everyone can take to protect themselves and their devices from cyber sporting scams this summer,€ Raj Samani, CTO of McAfee€™s Europe, Middle East and Africa business, said in a statement.

Some already are taking steps to protect themselves against online threats. According to the survey, of those aware of the risks, 65 percent said they planned to add a PIN code to their smartphones. In addition, 61 percent said they will switch off the Bluetooth technology in their devices before going to any sporting events this summer.

Thirty-two percent said they intended to install security software onto their mobile devices.

McAfee€™s Samani suggested other steps people could take to protect themselves. For example, people should be wary about using a public WiFi connection, since they can be used by criminals to steal personal data and perpetuate scams.

People also should turn off file-sharing capabilities in their devices when moving about; criminals can take advantage of the technology to steal sensitive data from mobile phones. In addition, Samani suggested turning off geo-tagging features on mobile devices before posting photos on social networking sites like Facebook. Otherwise, the user€™s location information can be seen by criminals.

€œFinally, if it looks too good to be true, it normally is,€ he said. €œBe wary of phony Websites, emails, texts and pop-ads offering deals on tickets to sporting events.€