DHS Urges Citizens to ‘Go for the Gold in Cybersecurity’ During 2012 Olympic Games

Last updated: 19 March 2014

With the Olympics coming in just a few short days, online offers for discounted tickets, free merchandise, exclusive videos, or breaking news sounds great, right?

Wrong, actually. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told readers in a recent blog post regarding the anticipated rise of cybercriminal activity around the 2012 Olympic Games.

Why are the Olympic Games a target for cybercriminals?  According to the DHS, “Hackers frequently take advantage of large, highly-publicized events and popular news stories to get users to click on fraudulent links and unknowingly download malware or other viruses onto their computers, smart phones, tablets, and other wireless devices.”

Here’s how they get you to click:  hackers will use search optimization tricks to ensure malicious sites appear on a search result page for certain keywords, and then more ruses to convince Internet users to give out their credit card and personal information.

Being proactive about their own cybersecurity can help citizens steer clear of falling victim to cyber thieves.  The DHS advises computer users follow these tips, which are extremely useful not only for a major event like the Olympics, but for every day Internet usage:

  • Update and run anti-virus and anti-spyware software regularly
  • Use spam filters and firewalls
  • Only download apps and software from reputable sources – if you can’t verify where it’s coming from, don’t download it
  • Don’t click on links promising deals that you weren’t expecting, and scrutinize links carefully when searching for Olympic-related pages
  • Don’t open emails from unknown individuals or organizations or that have attachments or links, and never click an embedded link in an unsolicited email
  • Never provide your personal information or credit card numbers unless you can verify a site’s authenticity

The DHS posted the blog as part of its Stop.Think.Connect. campaign.  The campaign is a national public awareness effort that aims to bring the U.S. to a higher level of Internet safety by challenging the American public to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits.  It’s a great campaign, and its goals are very similar to Gemalto’s goals with the consumer site JustAskGemalto.com: giving consumers tips and tools so they can stay safe and protect their own digital security.

Whether you are heading to London or watching the Olympics from afar – have fun, and stay secure.