Beijing Olympics Spur Flurry of Unlawful Internet Activity

The Beijing Olympics have come and gone, and the events seemed to unfold according to plan. But while billions of viewers reveled in new world records and celebrated their favorite athletes being catapulted to international fame, others were scheming to exploit this mammoth event to make — or steal — a quick buck.

“So often at global events there is a much larger population that you can go after for different deception tactics,” said Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer at Websense, a company that specializes in Internet filtering and Web-security solutions.

In 2007, Websense predicted that the Beijing Olympics would present the No. 1 security threat in 2008, with an expected increase in new cyberattacks, phishing and fraud.

Sure enough, cybercriminals found ways to defraud people on the Internet — the most popular ways being through fake ticket sales and bogus e-mail alerts.

In terms of the fake tickets, Hubbard said phony Web sites prompted people to buy tickets to their favorite games using slogans such as “Buy [your] tickets online,” “Make sure you have your tickets for the Olympics,” and “Log on to this Olympics Web site and [enter] your credit card details.”

The bogus e-mail alerts were designed to use the Olympics as a launching platform for a wave of attacks. The spam messages — with subject lines reading something like “Michael Phelps going for 8 gold medals” — posed as official alerts from notable news Web sites CNN and MSNBC. The messages then prompted users to click…

Deanna Hartley


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