As the Soccer World Cup draws closer, and South Africa's profile grows on the world stage, the country is coming in for more than its share of cybercrime activity.
According to Symantec, the event has already driven an increase in spamming activity as well as scams and other malicious threats targeting the world's 1-billion soccer supporters.
And the problem is exacerbated by the fact that the country is simultaneously enjoying massive connectivity growth, with new undersea cables already commissioned and more planned. Studies indicate that malicious activity always increaes dramatically in countries where new bandwidth is made available.
To help both locals and international visitors stay on top of the threats surrounding the World Cup, Symantec has set up a new Web site, www.2010netthreat.com, which offers users guidance and advice on how to secure their data, and will help them be alert to fraudulent activity.
Paul Wood, senior analyst at Symantec Hosted Services, says the soccer tournament is rapidly becoming a theme for cybercriminals.
"Historically, any large-scale sporting event has shown an increase in all kinds of cyberthreats," he says. "Phishing attcks increased by 66% during the Beijing Olympics in 2008."
Symantec has already installed additional network sensors in South Africa and southern Africa to monitor traffic and feed information to customers looking to secure their networks against new threats.
"As as example, two of our configuration partners in Africa have submitted unique malicious files that have not been seen elsewhere by Symantec," says Wood.
Internet users need to be on the lookout for new varieties of scams, says Gordon Love, Africa regional director at Symantec.
"The rule is, if something looks too good to be true, then it's likely to be a scam. 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.
"The 2010 Net Threat site aims to tell people how they can protect themselves against such attacks."