March Madness is back and for the very first time, the entire tournament is slated to take place in a single US state (Indiana). Teams are social distancing when not on the court and fans are working on picking out the perfect bracket.
Due to last year’s tournament cancellation, “…a lot of folks are really spending even more time getting their brackets filled out than usual…and scammers are aware of this”, says Mark Ostrowski, Head of Engineering, US East, Check Point Software.
By the way, the chances of a fan selecting the perfect bracket are one in 120.2 billion, says the NCAA. For those who select 100% randomly, those chances become one in 9 quadrillion.
Phishing attempts spreading March malware
Cyber security researchers report an increase in the number of phishing emails designed to fool users into submitting teams at the last minute. These emails ask individuals if they want to give their best guesses and may offer supposed freebies in exchange. Or they might say something like ‘your bracket has changed’.
Could these emails look like they’re originating with people with whom you’re familiar? Yes, a link that you received could appear as though it came from a friend or a colleague. However, suspicious signs often give way to the sender’s true identity as a spammer.
If you’re interested in submitting brackets, tournament information or in watching the games, security expert Mark Ostrowski advises that people directly search for specific websites. Avoid clicking on links that arrive via email.
Don’t do March Madness? You could still see scams
Even if you’re not doing an online bracket, scammers could still try to bait you as you try to watch matches. Watch out for phishing texts, emails and ads. They’ll say ‘hey, stream this game, download this app’. “You’ll think that you’re getting the app to download the game, but really, malware is being secretly slid under the radar,” says Ostrowski.
In the event that malware does make it onto your devices, your personal data may be at risk. You could end up with a busted bracket, zero dollars in your bank account or worse.
For more on March Madness and malware, visit NBC.