Azhar Aziz  |  Singapore
Published 2014-06-06 10:30:06

The World Cup fever is heating up and cyber criminals are looking to capitalise on it. One of the ways Internet crooks could leverage on this trend is to offer screensaver downloads of players to fans via websites laced with malware to steal a user’s personal data.

Not surprisingly, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo is the top target used by culprits for such a technique, according to research conducted by security firm McAfee. He was recently announced as the world’s most marketable player by Repucom and with more than 83 million Facebook followers, Ronaldo is the perfect choice to lure unsuspecting netizens.

Screenshot of WallpaperHD
Screenshot of WallpaperHD

Dubbed as the McAfee ‘Red Card Club’, the list shows football players whose websites are considered to be risky for fans to search online. Next up in the second and third ranking following Ronaldo is Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Spain’s Iker Cassillas.

“We want to caution consumers through the McAfee Red Card Club to not to let their guard down as they join in all the excitement surrounding the World Cup online. Be especially wary of videos promising to show your idol’s skills as you might get more than you bargain for.

“Cyber criminals will definitely try to capitalize on ‘World Cup fever’, so it’s wise not to be complacent by downloading content that might put you at risk,” said David Freer, Vice President, Consumer – APAC at McAfee, part of Intel Security.

Also read: Something’s Just Phishy About the SingPass Account Breach

Infographic: McAfee
Image Credit: McAfee

McAfee researchers used the McAfee® SiteAdvisor® site ratings to determine which sites are risky to search when coupled with footballer names and have calculated an overall risk percentage. Content linked to Ronaldo yields more than a 3.76% chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses, and other malware.

Messi and Casillas have a risk percentage of 3.72% and 3.34%, respectively. A total of 3 Spanish and 2 Brazil players are in the list.

In a press release, McAfee also shared security tips for netizens during the World Cup season such as exercising caution to content that prompts them to download anything before providing them with the content itself. Users are also advised to watch streaming videos or download content from official websites of content providers.

Moreover, the firm added that “free downloads” are the highest virus-prone search term. Anyone searching for videos or files to download should be careful to not unleash malware on their computer. McAfee added that web pages that offer videos showcasing the skills of players in action also pose the greatest risk to fans online.

Also read: Skype Scams – Malaysian Users Still Falling for It

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