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Rio 2016: Social Media Scams And 4,500 Malicious Apps Target Olympic Fans

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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RIO 2016: Olympic sports fans and organisations warned about dodgy apps and social media scams trying to steal data and infect devices

Researchers have found more than 4,500 malicious mobile applications hoping to take advantage of the popularity of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and claim 15 percent of social media accounts associated with the Games and its partners are fraudulent.

Proofpoint found 4,000 apps on Android and 500 on iOS that exhibited risky behaviour, such as attempting to steal data or even take over an infected device.

“One notable app purports to offer updates about the games but actually contains code that could take over social media accounts, read data from any device to which users connect their phones, and send data to third-party ad networks,” they said.

Rio 2016 Olympics app

Fake Rio apps

Social media will also be awash with scammers trying to steal information or install malware. Proofpoint says social activity related to the games has risen 200 percent recently and the amount of malicious content has increased by 60 percent.

More than 1,300 accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and other platforms with links to the Olympics and sponsors were assessed and 15 percent were found to be fraudulent, complete with 400,000 combined followers.

Of these fraudulent accounts, 82 percent were imposters attempting to be something official, whle six percent attempted to stage phishing attacks with fake links and four percent offered illegal tickets. Three percent tried to appear to be official in a bid to spread anti-Olympic propaganda.

“In another example, attackers emulated a major airline’s Twitter account and tweeted malicious links to an Olympics sponsor,” said the researchers. “These links delivered malware to vulnerable PCs.

Rio 2016 Olympics social media scam

Social media scams

“Malware delivered via social media is not limited to desktop computers either. Three weeks ago, we detected a malicious Android install kit posted to Olympics-related Facebook pages. One week ago, we detected four new instances of this kit, which can potentially take over Android devices and steal sensitive information.”

IT managers are urged to remind end users to be wary of such links and adopt the attitude that if something is too good to be true it probably is, while organisations are also encouraged to create strong passwords and automated detection methods to mitigate the impact of attacks.

Sports fans have also been warned about other security threats. For example, many common search terms associated with the Rio 2016 games return links to malicious websites.

The summer’s other major sporting event, Euro 2016, was subject to similar threats earlier this year.

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