80% of Olympic sites are scams

Summary:The 2012 Olympics is a perfect sporting event for everyone, including scammers. In your search to get the latest news about the Games, beware of fake domains set up just for pushing scams and spam. 4 in 5 of the sites out there are fake.

The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are well underway and so are the scams . 80 percent of Olympic Web domains are either only registered for the purpose of scamming or spamming visitors.

The new statistic comes from Zscaler, which looked at all identified domains containing the string "olympics" accessed by its customers over the course of a day. The security firm then classified them into three categories for further analysis: typo squatting, "TV on PC" scam, and "Made for Adsense" sites. Other scams include software for watching the Games that is actually spyware/adware, and survey scams.

Typo squatting, also called URL hijacking, is nothing new. The spam technique relies on you incorrectly typing in a website URL into your browser's address bar and thus landing on spammer's site instead. Zscaler has found that the main target of typo squatting in the US is the official NBC site for the Olympics: nbcolympics.com. Fake domains similar to NBC's are covered with advertising in the hope that users will click on them.

The "TV on PC" scam type pushes receiving Cable/Satellite TV on a PC for a very low monthly fee. Scammers are taking advantage of the Olympics, however, to dupe people who are ready to spend a few bucks to watch the games in real time. Many of fake Web pages are designed as reviews from users promoting the scam, or use simple HTTP redirection scripts.

The "Made for Adsense" (MfA) sites are highly targeted websites that drive web traffic from search engines by including enough content to get listed in results for a specific query. They contain lots of ads and encourage users click on them in order to get more interesting content.

The upside is that none of these sites appear to be serving up malware. "I guess the good news is that most of the scams are targeting 'low hanging fruit' and don't involve sophisticated exploits," a Zscaler spokesperson said in a statement.

Massive events like the Olympic Games have become popular ways for cybercriminals to make a quick buck. As sporting events become more and more tied to the Internet, the problem is only further exacerbated. As such, you can expect this year's Olympics to be the most scammed and spammed one yet.

See also:

Topics: Security, Olympics 2012

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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