World Ice Hockey Championships – Don’t let your defences slip

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Today kicks off the World Ice Hockey Championships; hosted in Bratislava, fans from far and wide will rally in attendance to support their home nations as they skate their way to victory. When world sporting events roll around, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and fanfare, especially if you are planning on attending the event in person. What you might not have thought about is that scammers are also cashing in on the fanfare and attempting to gain access to your personal data, typically credit card details or login credentials in various ways.

Caught up in the excitement of scoring a chance to watch your team in person, it can be easy to fall for scams such as cheap match tickets, ticket-inclusive hospitality packages, accommodation-booking services, or flights to match-hosting cities. Fraudsters often attempt to mimic big brand name sponsors of sporting events in order to reward you with ‘prizes’ or tickets. Even if you plan on watching the games from the comfort of your own home, you may receive an email or social media message that contains a malicious attachment or link, supposedly to games, apps, footage of highlights, videos with news about players, or other tempting content.

So how can you avoid a slippery situation? Firstly, one of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to use a long, strong and unique password or better still, passphrase, for each of your online accounts. Plus, just as you’d never share your team’s tactics with your opponents, you should never share your password with anybody.

On top of a strong password, two factor authentication is crucial in remaining one step ahead of potential threats. The extra stage of authentication will require you to take an extra step to prove your identity when you attempt to log in or conduct a transaction on your accounts. That way, even if your credentials leak or your password fails you, there is another barrier between your account and the attacker.

If you’re one of the lucky people who scored a ticket to your match of choice, look out for unsecured connections when you’re on the road. When you connect to the internet, whether by smartphone or via a laptop an attacker can place themselves between your device and the connection point, especially over dodgy wireless connections. To avoid this, use only web connections secured by HTTPS (particularly for your most valued accounts) and use trusted networks such as your mobile data. Steer clear of public WiFi hotspots, and if you do need to use one, use a reputable virtual private network (VPN) service to do so, and avoid sharing personal information.

There are many steps you can take to protect yourself online, but one of the easiest is to get yourself a reliable anti-malware solution that uses various detection techniques and deploys multiple layers of defense that kick in at different stages of the attack process. Using software means you can relax and enjoy the game knowing your safety is in the hands of experts. It’s important to remember that employing anti malware software isn’t just reserved for your laptop or computer, make sure your mobile is protected too. Whether you’re at home or the game, its likely your mobile is your primary form of purchasing and communication, so it is essential that your security software extends to your phone.

While your passwords and security software are your defensive team this season, your most important asset is you – the keeper. It is easy to think ‘It won’t happen to me’, because everyone is a potential target and victim. This Ice Hockey World Championship, stay vigilant, cyber-aware and educate yourself on safe online habits - one click is enough to inflict major damage on yourself and others, it’s just not worth the own goal.