PRESCOTT, Ariz. - With the Winter Olympics halfway around the world, technology gives us a closer look at all the competition, but today’s easy access to the games also puts us at risk for cyber scams.

Associate professor and department chair of the cyber intelligence and security degree program with the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Jon Haass, said the Olympic games are an excellent opportunity for scammers.

“Starting Friday and for the next couple of weeks, we can start to see these types of attacks, and it can vary from ransomware, to spear phishing, to drive-by malware,” Haass said.

Haass warned that scammers will take advantage of the Winter Games to target individuals with what appear to be amazing opportunities.

“'You’ve just been selected. Congratulations!' And, 'We notice that you’re in Arizona. Well, you could win a trip to the Olympics,'” Haass explained that a fake winning email, text or popup message will likely tell you the next step is to ‘click here,’ adding, “and you click on that website link and you’ve just been speared.”

That click could lead to malicious software downloaded onto your computer, tablet or smartphone to steal your money or identity.

Haass said the best way to fight back is to be smart.

  1. Stick to reputable sites for Winter Olympics updates and gear.
  2. Look closely before you click. Messages and links appearing to come from big-name companies and sponsors may be off by just one letter.

“Always look for the https and look for the sign on your browser that says that it is a trusted site, so all the ones like NBC, they are going to have that logo,” Haass said of the small lock appearing on secure sites.

Above all, the professor reminds people, if it’s too good to be true, “it probably is, somebody is going to take advantage of you.”

If you think you’ve been taken, Haass recommends you change your passwords and tell your bank immediately. He suggests you use this website as a resource to find reputable companies in Arizona to help protect your technology and clean it up, if it’s too late.