Fantasy football is supposed to be fun, with the stress mitigated to calculations and a bit of luck. But there’s a new player on the block – the cyber attacker – and they are not here to play but to steal. Fortunately, there are some tools that can keep them at the start line. Read on to find out how.
Bets used to be contained to private dealings between a bookie, their paper pad, and close acquaintances. Now, it’s a public thing, run by huge companies like New York-based FanDuel Inc. and Boston-based DraftKings Inc.
It’s great news for those who are into both serious and casual betting as it provides a stable platform to do so. However, it’s also attracted the attention of the shadier side of the internet. And unfortunately, where hackers are involved, things can get hairy fast and then they’re gone before anyone’s the wiser.
Cyber Crime is a Huge Threat to Fantasy Sports
Anything that’s popular on the internet is fair game as far as hackers are concerned. The bigger the fish, the bigger the prize and they’re placing their bets on fantasy sports.
Fantasy Football has grown a lot in popularity these last few years, attracting millions of visitors to betting sites every day. But as people happily bet away on their favorite athletes, cybercriminals are busy poking holes in these platforms’ defenses.
Back in 2014, Yahoo saw one of the largest data breaches in history. Users of their fantasy football app were among the largest sections of those affected.
That was 5 years ago. Participation in fantasy sports has increased exponentially since then, with over 15.6 million players in 2017, in the US alone. That’s one big target on the backs of fantasy sports betting companies – that haven’t really focused on upping their security.
This has lead to increased reports of sports betting websites being targeted as well as fake sites being set-up to draw some of that traffic. Unless companies step up their security, it’s very likely that these threats will only increase in number.
The Types of Threats Fans Face
The nature of fantasy sports betting sites and apps leaves a lot of room for exploitation from outside forces.
To take part, people have to share personal details and login information, as well as a payment method. These companies collect massive amounts of data – including credit card information, social security numbers, and other consumer data. That leaves fantasy sports fans very vulnerable when the company database gets hacked. Not to mention the massive amounts of money these companies work with on a daily basis. Both these aspects make a sports betting website an attractive target for attackers.
Right now, the threats fantasy sports fans face are:
-Fake betting websites and apps.
-Malware that hides behind ads on fantasy sports betting websites.
-The connection becoming compromised and transactions being intercepted.
-The company data being stolen, which means user login details, personal details, and payment information being stolen, too.
-Hackers rigging the system.
-Phishing attempts via email, social media, and text messages.
What Can Be Done?
Right now, it’s up to each individual to protect themselves. Even if the betting industry gets their act together cybersecurity-wise, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.
Luckily, there are a few steps a person can take to make themselves a harder target. Hackers work smart, not hard. If they can’t get in, then they’ll move on to an easier target.
Get a good antivirus and firewall: These programs will block internet pop-ups, detect suspicious downloads, and automatically delete unsafe files. They’re not infallible, and might not detect everything, but they are the first line of defense.
Use a VPN while online: VPN services are becoming exceedingly popular under those working with online transactions. They employ state-of-the-art encryption methods and hide a user’s IP, making it very hard for an outsider to gain access.
Use a separate Email and password for betting: This way, it’s harder for attackers to get access if any other online accounts get compromised. It also makes it easier to pick out phishing attempts.
Never click on links or download attachments: When it’s possible, go straight to the source. Meaning, type in the website URL or search for the page via the website. Attackers often create fake versions of emails sent by real companies to get people to click on the links. Which is always malware.
Fantasy sports is a booming industry, but this intersection of tech, money, and data creates the perfect platform for exploitation. So don’t let the fun get spoilt by malicious cyber attackers – bet cautiously with online safety.