Don't get hacked off at the Olympic Games

China hosts 31.3% of all web-based malware
Sophos issues top ten tips for people travelling to the Olympic Games IT security and control firm Sophos is warning the tens of thousands of athletes, coaches, journalists and tourists travelling to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games to be on their guard against cybercriminals when using their notebooks, PDAs and smartphones. Sophos published research last month which revealed that almost a third of all infected webpages in the world were hosted in China in the first six months.

Experts at Sophos are highlighting the need for visitors to the Games not to forget their usual security measures in their haste to access the web from Wi-Fi hotspots, internet cafs and hotels.

Cybercriminals including hackers, spammers and phishers are known to take advantage of major events, whether they be political, environmental or sporting, taking advantage of the excitement and tricking unsuspecting computer users into accidentally clicking links in spam messages, visiting bogus web pages, and inadvertently downloading malware.

With the web now being hackers' preferred vector of attack and with China now hosting the second largest proportion of infected webpages in the world, the risks are even higher for the average computer user wanting to connect to web. This problem is compounded in China, as many security companies find it more difficult to monitor Chinese sites when compared to other countries, and even when infected sites are identified, finding the appropriate contact and communicating the problem can prove challenging.

"Desperate to read the latest news from the Games and send reports back home, sports fans might fall at the first hurdle, giving hackers the advantage," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Of course hackers will do their best to capitalise on this event - the most effective way to avoid the pitfalls is to make your device an unattractive target. We've published top ten tips to remind users to not throw caution to the wind. After all, the last thing any visitor wants is to find their bank account emptied while they enjoying the Games abroad."

Sophos's top tips to stay safe on the web at the Olympics:

  • Turn off administrative rights when accessing the internet - a hacker will get a lot further with an administrator's password and username.
  • Before you send email or surf the web, check that your anti-virus software is fully up to date. Just because you are out of the country doesn't make you a more difficult target for hackers.
  • Ensure all security patches for your browser, operating system, and other applications are downloaded and installed as soon as they are made available.
  • Have an active personal firewall to help block unauthorised access to your computer.
  • Do not leave your laptop or mobile phone unattended. Old fashioned theft in events like these is still a serious problem.
  • Make sure your VPN connection is secure when sending emails or downloading data.
  • All confidential data should be encrypted, whether it is stored on notebooks, mobile phones or USB stick. Should your computer or data fall into the wrong hands, it will be blocked from prying eyes.
  • Only use your own USB sticks or external storage devices - hackers have been known to plant malware on these items in the past.
  • Turn on your wireless functions such as WLAN and Bluetooth only when you need them, and make sure to turn them off when you have finished sending mail to looking for web content.
  • Back up all important data: even if all precautions are taken, it is still possible for your computer to be stolen or compromised. Ensure you have copies of all the latest data backed up on another device, such as a USB or CD. If the worst happens, at least you can retrieve your information.

About Sophos

Sophos enables enterprises all over the world to secure and control their IT infrastructure. Sophos's network access control, endpoint, web and email solutions simplify security to provide integrated defenses against malware, spyware, intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse, data leakage and compliance drift. With over 20 years of experience, Sophos protects over 100 million users in nearly 150 countries with its reliably engineered security solutions and services. Recognized for its high level of customer satisfaction and powerful yet easy-to-use solutions, Sophos has received many industry awards, as well as positive reviews and certifications.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK

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