Tips for staying safe on the fantasy-football field.

On September 5th, 2019, the official start of the 2019 NFL Season will kick off marking the 100th season of the National Football League.  

While the professional players take to the field in search of a ticket to Super Bowl LIV (February 2, 2020 in Miami), tens of millions of people in the US and Canada are busy turning to the web to draft and manage their own fantasy football teams.

From researching players to conducting drafts, or double-checking statistics and scores, almost every aspect of the fantasy football is done while navigating free websites, creating millions of potential targets for cybercriminals looking to cash in on your football fun.   What’s more?  For many businesses, player research and team management happens during work hours and makes your company vulnerable to attack.

Financial gain is the goal of cybercriminals that spend their time launching sports-related attacks.  They know that many fans can get caught up in the excitement without much thought about the validity of the website link that they are clicking on.  “Click happy” players trying to score some great info on “how to pick the right team” or that have the chance to get a “dream team pick” are less likely to care about the URL connected to the link and more likely to lose out to a cybercriminal waiting to capitalize on their risky on-line behavior.  

With this in mind, we thought we’d focus this month’s first blog on tips to protect fantasy football players and the companies they work for from falling victim to cybercrime.  Below we share some of the things you need to look out for and what you can do to keep safe.  

Phishing websites:
We talked about these last month and now they are back for football season!  These are links to web pages and websites that look legitimate but are not.  In the end, visiting these sites can put malware on your device or the site may capture your personal information without your consent.  You want to make sure that the link you are clicking on is legitimate (and this is getting trickier all the time). Cyber criminals pray on people that are rushed, excited, or emotionally motivated to click on what they are offering.  Be careful…always!

Fake apps:
There are no shortage of apps that you can download to help you join a league, research players, or play in a variety of games.  Like the phishing schemes, these apps may also carry malware when downloaded, or they can steal your personal information.  Again, caution should be your first pick when choosing an app.  Make sure it is legitimate.

Fraudulent payment requests:
The fantasy football industry is lucrative and playing in a league can be costly in more ways than one! Whether you are paying for something that is league-related or you are making a payment to another participant, you want to make certain that the payment request is bonafide and not some scammer faking a request to steal your info and your money.

So, what can you do to stay safe in the “game”?

1) Only click on links from trusted sources

2) Don’t click on spam or hyperlinks

3) Have strong privacy controls for any on-line payment processing

4) Create iron-clad passwords

5) Have security software on all of your devices (like anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware) and keep them up to date

6) Have a robust back up process in place

7) Consider having 2FA (two-factor authentication) as another measure to keep your information protected

8) Consider a proactive management and monitoring plan for your network to identify any suspicious activity.

9) Keep yourself up to date on the latest cyber schemes, employ best practices when surfing the net and make cyber-security training a must for everyone!   On and off-season!

Fantasy Football may be a fun past-time, but you don’t want it to take you and your company out of the game.  Be sure to communicate your policies on using office equipment and devices for personal use and mandate that all employees use safe surfing practices.