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Posted on July 18, 2016 by in Personal, Scam Alerts

As it gets closer and closer to the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, you’ve probably been encountering quite a few stories about Zika virus fears from those traveling to Brazil for the games. There is, however, a very real threat that isn’t being discussed too heavily and it could affect millions of people at the Olympics: identity theft. Cyber criminals are counting on this lack of coverage and they are gearing up for widespread attacks on unsuspecting visitors — and even people who aren’t traveling to Brazil for the Olympics.

“These are highly-organized criminal gangs who are building their teams, developing more sophisticated attacks, so that when new targets come into the region, they’re ready,” said Caleb Barlow, vice president of IBM Security, speaking with NBC News. “Any time you have a large group of people involved in some type of event where they will want to click on things, try new things, download new apps, and have experiences, that’s a major opportunity for the bad guys.”

The main concern in Rio that could put your personal information in danger is the Wi-Fi networks that are not secure. Kaspersky Lab traveled across Rio recently to map out and assess the security of Wi-Fi networks that Olympic spectators will encounter, and they found that 18 percent of the networks they tested were open. When a network is open, data sent or received is not encrypted or protected in any way — which means any cyber criminal can tap in and steal your information. Kaspersky Lab recommends using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) the entire time you are in Rio because it will make it significantly more difficult for hackers to access your data.

Not Going to the Olympics? You Could Still Be Targeted by a Scam.

Identity thieves know that not everyone has the time or money to travel to the Olympic games — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try to steal your information anyway. Hackers are counting on the general worldwide buzz surrounding the games to work to their advantage when it comes to scamming people.

There has already been an Olympics e-mail scam in motion for over a year. It tells the recipient they’ve won free tickets to the games in a lottery organized by the International Olympic Committee and the Brazilian government, and to receive the tickets, they need to provide some personal information.

As the games approach, cyber criminals will undoubtedly up the ante and really go for the gold — your gold — using different fake websites, apps, and phishing e-mails. They’ll think of all sorts of deals, offers, and contests to draw you in and steal your personal information. Don’t fall for these scams. Use common sense, be skeptical about anything that asks for your personal information, and don’t click links or download things from people you don’t know.