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On your marks, get set, go. Spam, Phishing and malware could reach Olympic proportions

  • 04 August, 2008 12:22

<p>Sydney, Australia – Monday August 4, 2008 -- With a just a few days to go until the start of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Symantec is advising consumers and businesses to be vigilant of an increase in spam, malware and phishing attacks hiding behind an Olympic theme.</p>
<p>Just this month the company’s July Spam report warned of a large spike in spam purporting to be Games related. The message scams pretended to originate from the Beijing Olympic Committee, declared the recipient a winner of the Olympic lottery and requested that they respond by return email to claim their fraudulent prize.</p>
<p>But it is not just spam. Many websites connected to major sporting events, such as past Super Bowls, have fallen prey to attacks that compromise the website to download malware onto the users’ computers when they view the page. These compromised sites may not even be official Web sites, but could be chat forums and other discussion sites for the sporting event.</p>
<p>According to the latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report XIII, web-based threats are growing, with attackers leveraging site-specific vulnerabilities that can then be used as a means for launching other attacks. During the last six months of 2007, there were 11,253 site specific cross-site scripting vulnerabilities reported on the Internet; these represent vulnerabilities in individual Web sites. However, only 473 (about 4 percent) of them had been patched by the administrator of the affected Web site during the same period, representing an enormous window of opportunity for hackers looking to launch attacks.</p>
<p>There are two ways in which these samples modify Web pages. The first is that the malicious code adds its own code to a Web page so that other people who view the page may become infected. The second way is that an iframe tag is added to the Web page that redirects users to another Web site.</p>
<p>Richard Archdeacon, Director Symantec Global Security, warns: “At key global sporting and social events we often see a big rise in Internet security attacks, which ranges from simple spam attacks to websites relating to those events being compromised. As expected, the Beijing Olympics is gearing up to be one of the biggest events of the year and hackers and spammers will see it as a massive opportunity to compromise the unwary.”</p>
<p>“To stay safe online, Internet users should remember to not open emails or click on links from unknown sources, no matter how many gold medals they are offering. Businesses need to ensure that their networks are patched and their Web sites up-to-date with the latest security solutions or they risk damaging their corporate reputation by unsuspectingly hosting malicious code on their websites,” said Archdeacon.</p>
<p>To protect yourself from web-based vulnerabilities, make sure your computer has the latest security software which can tell you if the site you are visiting is to be trusted. Ensure your computer has the latest patches and security updates, and make sure your computer is configured securely. Check that the url of the website you are visiting is still the site you are expecting to see and that you haven’t been redirected away without your knowing.</p>
<p>Travelling to the Olympics</p>
<p>For those travelling to the Olympics, Symantec is also offering some tips to keep your online travels safe, even when you are away from home.</p>
<p>1. Don’t let your laptop or PDA sprout mysterious legs. Leaving your laptop out in the open in your hotel room can often prove irresistible to a thief. Many thieves are even known to scour popular vacation or conference spots looking for someone who leaves their laptop alone. Finally, along the same lines, with all the hoops people have to jump through at the airport, many passengers simply forget to put their laptops back in their bags at the security checkpoint. As a precautionary measure, you should encrypt your data before you travel.</p>
<p>2. Make sure all the critical software applications on your machine have up to date patches. This includes not only the core operating system, but also third party applications that you run – whether it’s the software you use to purchase and play your favorite music, or simply what you use to view documents.</p>
<p>3. Always run a comprehensive Internet security software suite that is up to date. While you are out and about, and connecting to the Internet in entirely unfamiliar locales, you should keep in mind that the network may not be completely secure. Therefore, it’s good to keep your machine protected from the large number of malicious threats that surreptitiously traverse the roads of cyberspace.</p>
<p>4. Be careful of machines at the local cyber café or free internet kiosk – the last person to have used the machine may have unknowingly (or knowingly!) left a nasty piece of malware on there for you. In general, never use these machines to connect to a web site that requires you to type your password or for that matter don’t type any sensitive information into these systems – for all you know, that information could be recorded and sent to an attacker half way around the world.</p>
<p>About Symantec
Symantec is a global leader in infrastructure software, enabling businesses and consumers to have confidence in a connected world. The company helps customers protect their infrastructure, information and interactions by delivering software and services that address risks to security, availability, compliance and performance. It is the fourth largest software company in the world.</p>
<p>Press Contacts:</p>
<p>Debbie Sassine
Symantec
+61 2 8879 1110
debbie_sassine@symantec.com</p>
<p>Angela Coombes
Max Australia
+61 2 9954 3492
angela.coombes@maxaustralia.com.au</p>

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