March Madness is right around the corner. Who’s excited? Here’s the thing, even if you aren’t a college basketball fall, you may still get caught up in the hype of March Madness. The games are on during the workday, you can have some fun selecting a bracket, and you may even end up with bragging rights at the end of the tournament because you selected the winner, or had the most points in your bracket (or, one of the brackets that you are involved in). All fun and games, right?
Unfortunately (yep, it’s time for the black cloud), hackers like to have fun with March Madness as well. And, their fun isn’t as innocent as a simple office pool. Their fun consists of wreaking havoc on your company, or directly on you. Consider this the March Hackness Final Four.
Fake Websites & Apps
Part of the fun of March Madness is selecting your teams, filling out a bracket, and watching live streams of the games. And, realistically this is often done online, which providers hackers with the opportunity to lure fans with fake websites and apps. A website highlighting that they will stream games live so employees can watch from their computer is pretty enticing. And, hackers know this, so they use it as an opportunity to embed malware in the video players or ask you to provide information before you can fill out your bracket. And if you are placing bets online, that’s even better for hackers because it creates the perfect opportunity for you to provide them with your credit card information in exchange for the potential to win cash (when in fact, quite the opposite happens).
We’re not saying stay away from brackets and online sources of coverage, but we are encouraging you to beware. Only go to websites from confirmed, reputable sources. And be conscious of the information that you are providing. If a website is asking for personal information, consider it a foul and do not provide it.
Phishing emails are the big shot of March Hackness. If you filled out your bracket online or placed a bet, you are likely anticipating email updates. And if you are anticipating an email, you are more likely to skim the content and click on a link within that email. This is what Team Hacker is hoping for. Phishing emails lure you into clicking on a link that could take you to a forged website or have hidden redirects within the links. Look, we all know that we should read emails carefully, watch for typos, and not click on links in emails from unknown sources. But, during March Madness, our excitement can get the best of us, and that can be detrimental.
When you receive a March Madness update, pause and take a moment to really read the email. Watch for the phishing signs, and instead of clicking on a link, go to the website directly by typing the URL in your website browser. This is the time to play it safe.
Fake Links In Forums & On Social
We are presented with numerous opportunities to click links throughout the day. And, during March Madness, there will be even more updates. Scores, upsets, injuries, and Cinderella stories will flood our social media platforms and forums. And, you need to know the update…right?
This is another time to focus on defense. News travels fast on social, which also means that a fake link posted by a friend whose account was hacked, can travel very quickly with the enticement of important information. This is another time that you should go to a reputable website directly instead of clicking on a link.
And forums? Proceed with extreme caution because you may not know the person that is sharing this great video showing highlights from last night’s game! Again, we say, type in the URL directly.
Ransomware & Malware
These are the big ones, and if a hacker can get these installed on your computer or device, it’s like winning the tournament. The fake websites, phishing emails, and fake links all lead to this. So, in order to avoid having ransomware or malware added to your devices, heed the warnings, and keep yourself protected. We know, March Madness is exciting. All we are asking is that you take a moment to think about what you are about to access. And, when in doubt, don’t click!
Ultimately, we hope you stay out of the March Hackness bracket and stick to March Madness. Oh, and enjoy a few of the games!