The 2010 World Cup is finally under way and millions of football fans around the world will be tuning in over the next three weeks to watch their favourite national team compete in one of the world’s most popular sporting events.

Although many will be glued to their TV screens, thousands of fans will also be browsing the Internet for related commentary, news updates and, for those with a decent connection, highlights of the games.

As with any ‘important’ event, cyber criminals will be out in force to take advantage of the frenzy and fun to send spam, distribute malware and create new phishing opportunities. Unfortunately, there are many users who continue to fall for these scammers’ tricks; yet a bit of attention could reduce the risks considerably.

Here are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime:

  1. If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Spam and scams are often easy to identify. If these emails promise the world and are offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet your favourite players or a chance to get tickets to the final, do the right thing and hit the delete button.
  2. Are your systems up-to-date? It’s great to have anti-virus software installed but useless if you haven’t updated the software in months. The same goes for anti-spyware products (if you’re using one).
  3. If you are a Twitter fan, don’t click on truncated URLs. Don’t give in to temptation. It’s not worth the risk.
  4. Anything you receive related to the World Cup – emails, links, attachments, social network messages and so on – are to be treated with suspicion.
  5. Beware of Google search results. Poisoned search results are used extensively by cybercriminals to redirect users to phishing and malware-infected sites. If you really can’t get enough of the World Cup and need a constant dose of footie news, get the information from reputable sites. Leading news sites, the official FIFA website and other well-known sport portals provide more than enough information for even the most discerning of football fans!
  6. If in doubt, ignore it. It’s better to miss out on piece of news or a video clip than to be held ransom by rogue software and your machine being infected with malware (especially if you’re on a company machine at the office).