March Madness is almost here! I expect there will be the usual social media blitz on team information, player stats, tournament brackets, schedules, and other sites that are set up by good and bad agents alike. We’re going to see ads in sidebars, links on Twitter, and tempting headlines all over the web. If you’ve ever bought anything from an online store selling sports gear or official jerseys or tees, you’re certain to see more than your fair share of these links.
I love college sports, and keep track of my alma mater even though they never do well on the national basketball courts. So I’m somewhat isolated. But if you’re a more rabid fan of a Division 1 university team, there’s a huge opportunity for evildoers to lead you astray. You’re going to see Bit.Ly links on Twitter and Facebook. You’re going to see Pinterest and YouTube video opportunities galore. You’re going to see ads all over every Google search, on your Yahoo pages, and everywhere else you might search for answers or surf a site with paid advertising. Social site phishing has doubled from last year.
My warning to you is to avoid letting your competitive patriotism overwhelm your online security acumen. Keep in mind the following tips through the next few weeks and beyond:
- Never submit your information on any site not protected by https! Your personal information is a treasure trove for identity thieves, so be stingy about where you give it out.
- Be more cautious when buying from sites that don’t have the green (EV) bar or tab. Check for typos and other signs of fly-by-night companies that haven’t put enough time into their scams. You can take our test here to find out how savvy you are about website threats.
- Don’t just click on links on social sites. If you mouse over the link you can right-click and select Copy Link Location. Then visit Symantec’s Safe Web - https://safeweb.norton.com/ - and paste the link in to make sure the site you’re about to visit is malware-free. Bookmark this nifty tool!
- Your phone does not guarantee your safety – in fact, about a third of the mobile threats last year were designed to steal information (especially on Android). Be doubly cautious about clicking links on your phone, because it’s harder to check of the destination URL. Can it wait an hour until you get to your laptop for easier link validation? If not, consider learning more about mobile security.
Do yourself a favor for March Madness – surf smarter.