The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off today in Japan. This quadrennial showcase of the world's best teams competing for the sport's biggest prize has many South Africans eagerly anticipating a strong showing by the Springboks.
But despite the excitement building for what many expect will be the most technology-driven event yet, people should remain vigilant when it comes to cyber security threats.
Not only are tickets changing hands faster online than a French flyhalf can kick to touch, but video streaming sites, sports betting, and mobile apps are spoiling fans for choice when it comes to being part of the event for the next several weeks
However, if the Football World Cup last year showed us anything, then it is that those maliciously inclined will use all the tools at their disposal to steal sensitive data during this rugby showcase.
Of course, it is not only individuals that need to be on their guard but companies as well. Given the time difference, many matches will take place during office hours. And while some employers will take a soft approach to policing when the Springboks are in action, they will likely take a dim view to people trying to watch every single game live using the office infrastructure.
Offside for pirate feeds
One of the biggest concerns will be around streaming matches from unofficial sources. With only one broadcaster in South Africa having rights for television and radio coverage, chances are that if you are not a subscriber, then you will look to more dubious means to watch.
Not only is this illegal, but many dubious sites ask for a small fee to access a pirate feed and then happily pass on your credit card details to the highest bidder. Furthermore, these sites typically request access to install 'streaming software' on your device that doubles as malware.
Chances are that if a link sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Rather use official sites to follow updates if you are unable to stream the broadcast.
Apps red carded
Another area to worry about is that of fake apps. Apple and Android stores will likely be flooded by all sorts of rugby apps providing everything from match scores to fantasy leagues, sports betting to training tips, and everything else in between.
This is especially worrying given the fact that many employees will use company devices to download these. As with the pirate feeds, some of these apps can install spyware on corporate networks and farm data off to hackers anywhere in the world before the user (or company) suspect anything is wrong.
Businesses must therefore ensure that employees toe the line in terms of what they can and cannot do during the Rugby World Cup especially when it comes to streaming video and downloading apps.
For their part, the company must also make sure that its cyber defences have been shored up with the latest patches and all entry points into the business are protected.
The same advice applies to consumers. Make sure all devices are patched and cyber security software is updated. Limit the use of public Wi-Fi and only ever download apps from trusted sources. And as with anything, never click on unsolicited emails or open attachments that look suspect.
From an ex professional rugby player, here's to an exciting world cup and hopefully the Bokke can come home with the silverware.
* By Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President Sub-Saharan Africa at Trend Micro.