By Yaniv Sulkes, AVP Marketing at Allot Communications

If you’ve been watching any of this summer’s exciting sporting action, chances are you would have done so on a mobile device.

You’re not alone. Organisers of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics expect more than 80 percent of their audience to come from mobile platforms.

Unfortunately, major sporting events, such as the Olympics, tend to witness higher levels of cyber crime, with online fraudsters looking to take advantage of users wanting to be part of the action.

Global security experts Kaspersky Lab has warned that well-organised criminal gangs have been planning to target Olympic fans for more than a year through phishing emails, fake ticket scams, malware and so on.

Some are even using “Rio” and “Rio2016” domain names to lure their victims.

Not only is this bad news for the victim, but it also is a red flag for mobile operators and communication service providers.

Any cyber attack on a device connected through a particular CSP could ultimately result in a loss of revenue, trust and reputation, all of which could cost dearly.

Instead, CSPs need to take the fight to the cyber criminals by providing on-going security-as-a-service as add-ons for their customers.

How big is the threat?

In our latest report, we found that the risk of a cyber attack on a mobile device to business-user sports fans more than doubled during the first week of the Games.

“How the Games in Rio de Janeiro Put Mobile Business Users at Risk” goes on to highlight that more than half of this risk (55 percent) came from social media activity, which more than tripled during the first week of the Games.

And it is not just the Olympics: visits to betting sites, a major contributor to cyber security risk, more than doubled at the Euros, leaping from one in nine users before matches, to one in four during, according to our research.

These threats are magnified for users accessing the internet via a mobile device, compared to those using a desktop computer, for a number of reasons.

For instance, a mobile device can be used from pretty much anywhere, meaning that the user could be distracted and not paying full attention to what they are doing.

Users are also more likely to record, share and download on their mobile devices.

However, one of the main reasons is that mobile devices tend not to have the same level of protection as desktops.

According to Kaspersky, only six in 10 mobile devices are protected by antivirus software. Further, many users are unaware of that their device is not protected or simply do not think it matters to them.

Three ways to win over customers

By helping to protect their customers from online attacks, CSPs can protect their own interests.

Persuading users to subscribe to mobile security software could potentially be a hard sell, particularly to those who have not yet been a victim of cyber crime.

Yet there are a number of ways mobile operators can win customers over, especially during big sporting events.

The first is allowing customers to try the service for free before they commit to buying it. This could be done by targeting those who are most at risk (i.e. sports fans) with timed trials of malware protection.

At the end of the trial, the customer can either walk away or sign up.

Another approach is to offer security as part of a bigger deal.

During a sporting event this could be providing security bundled in with enhanced data and bandwidth packages, allowing users to safely view their favourite athletes while on the go.

Finally, there will be those who, like their sporting heroes, will be looking for gold, in this case gold-plated security.

A comprehensive, top of the line security package is what many will be looking for.

Offering such protection at a discounted rate during an event will be the key to drawing these customers in.

Major sporting events provide the ideal opportunity for CSPs to educate their customers about cyber threats and how to prevent them.

An increase in device usage for accessing and sharing information is always going to increase the number of potential entry points for cybercriminals to exploit.

By letting customers know that they have got their backs, CSPs can quickly become the MVP in offering that valuable back line of defence.

This provides peace of mind for customers while creating new revenue streams for the CSPs.

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