March Madness and Cyber Attacks

March 19, 2024

March Madness is an exciting time that brings diehards and casual fans together for a common goal: filling in the perfect NCAA bracket! Although it is nearly impossible to complete the perfect bracket, almost 56.3 million fans are estimated to participate during March Madness. With many of these brackets being entered online and people betting on results, consumers and businesses alike should anticipate fraudsters to take advantage of March Madness.

Cybersecurity experts agree that individuals put themselves at increased risk by engaging in online sports betting. Experts caution that data breaches of consumer information can lead to identity theft and fraud. Online betters may be asked to provide personal identifying information and financial and banking information. That said, hackers are actively trying to gain access to betting sites. Understanding how cybercriminals can access personal information and how to prevent such compromises can minimize the risk of loss and ensure online safety.

Man in gray long sleeve shirt looking down at a sports betting app on his smart phone

How Cyber Criminals Gain Information

Social Media
Fraudsters frequently use social media websites to learn personal information about individuals. Fraudsters may also try to request money to buy tickets or place bets by impersonating a friend or family member through a hacked or spoofed account.

Fake Bracket Contests
Fake brackets collect money from entry fees and steal personal information while promising big payouts. Once scammers have all the information necessary, they disappear and do not deliver the promised prizes.

Robocalls or Texts
As betting sites have become legal in most states, scammers will reach out via phone or often text message to promote popular betting sites such as DraftKings or FanDuel. They can access your betting accounts by offering to set up an account for you or by resetting passwords to hijack your account.

How to Prevent These Cyber Attacks

The primary method to shield yourself from cyberattacks is by exercising caution regarding where you input your information. Being vigilant is crucial, especially as scammers increasingly exploit sports as a fresh avenue for deception. By remaining vigilant, you can identify suspicious offers and unfamiliar companies that appear excessively appealing, thereby safeguarding yourself from potential scams.

Only Download Legitimate Apps
Mobile app stores do their best to keep fake apps off their menu, but scam sites can still appear. Scam sites can appear as new or be spoofed to appear as actual legitimate gambling apps. To avoid fake apps:

  • Check reviews to see if anyone has complaints.
  • Look for grammar errors that are obvious enough to question legitimacy, as app creators usually polish descriptions.
  • Check the number of downloads to see if it’s less than millions or billions. Popular apps will have thousands of downloads compared to counterfeit apps, which may only have several thousand.
  • Research the developer to see what other products they have created and their reputation.
  • Review the apps’ permissions to determine what types of information each app is attempting to gain.

Do Not Click On Pop-Ups
Many sites and apps have pop-ups offering discounted sports gear or cheap tickets to games. Hackers may employ pop-ups to infiltrate your device with malware, which is malicious software designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to your information.

Resources

To report instances of identity theft, individuals can turn to IdentityTheft.gov, a comprehensive platform designed to assist victims in navigating the aftermath of such incidents. Here, affected individuals can access valuable resources, submit reports, and receive personalized guidance to help them mitigate the repercussions of identity theft.

Similarly, for cases of fraud, individuals can utilize ReportFraud.ftc.gov as a centralized hub for reporting fraudulent activities. This platform streamlines the reporting process and ensures that relevant authorities are promptly informed, facilitating swift action against fraudulent actors. Through these dedicated reporting channels, identity theft and fraud victims can take proactive steps to safeguard their interests and seek appropriate recourse.

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