The Soccer World Cup is still months away – but already the Internet scam activity has begun.

Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) reports that it is receiving an increasing number of complaints from people overseas who have booked accommodation on open webs ites in South Africa – only to find that after the deposit has been paid, the "lessor" disappears with the deposit.
Pat Cunningham, executive director of SAFPS, says that while accommodation advance fee fraud is fairly common, there has been a marked increase in complaints and reports.
He cites the example of one individual who has used more than six different names and e-mail addresses to solicit advance fee deposits, with the same photograph of a property in Camps Bay used on each occasion.
Meanwhile, Symantec says it will be tracking malicious activity on the Internet relating to the soccer World Cup, offering data, commentary, safety tips and useful links for football fans surfing the Internet for news, tickets and information on the tournament on a dedicted site, www.2010netthreat.com.
According to Paul Wood, senior analyst at Symantec Hosted Services, the tournament – which attracts the attention of more than 1-billion soccer fans worldwide – is becoming a theme for cybercriminals.
“Historically, any large-scale sporting event has shown an increase in all kinds of cyberthreats,” says Wood. “Phishing attacks increased by 66% during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The fact that two undersea communications cables landed on South African shores last July will exacerbate the threat levels; history also shows that malicious activity increases in a country after new bandwidth is made available.”
Symantec has already installed additional network sensors in South Africa and southern Africa to monitor traffic and feed information to customers who are looking to take steps to secure their networks against additional threats. “As an example, two of our configured partners in Africa have submitted unique malicious files that have not been seen elsewhere by Symantec,” says Wood.
Much of the threat activity will not be new to the world of cybercrime – so-called 419 scams, spam and phishing attacks will face users in the guise of special offers for the event.
“The rule is, if something looks too good to be true, then it’s likely to be a scam,” says Gordon Love, Africa regional director at Symantec. “Also, in all cases these days a cybercriminal is looking to steal a user’s personal information – identity details, bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers – to steal money from a user. The 2010 Net Threat site will aim to tell people how they can protect themselves against such attacks.”
Internet users must also be on the alert for new varieties of scam, Love warns. “Attackers are even going as far as ensuring their fake Web sites or sites they have ‘poisoned’ with malicious code appear at the top of search results. Users tend to assume that the sites that appear first tend to be legitimate, and may click on them without first examining the source.”
By the time the World Cup kicks off, 3,1-million tickets will have been sold and more than 400-million people worldwide will watch each match on television. The number of fans using the Internet to find tickets, accommodation, flights and ways to stay connected to this year’s most popular sporting event will amount to hundreds of millions.
“The site will provide people with the information they need to protect themselves on the Internet,” says Love. “However, attackers are always finding new ways of duping people into disclosing their personal information. Being well informed and alert is as important as keeping up to date with the latest protection software updates.”