Dan Dearing

-September 10, 2015

Are You Ready For Some Football…and the Risks That Come With It?

Kickoff is mere hours away! There is no doubt that the National Football League (NFL) is one of America’s favorite, and most popular, pastimes. During the 2014 regular season, more than 17 million people attended NFL games which resulted in an average of more than 67,000 people per game. However, as much as people love attending football games, there is one risk that fans need to start paying attention to: network security.

Mobile device and network security is becoming a major issue in public venues – especially stadiums where there can be up to 100,000 fans at any given game. When it comes to security, most mobile devices are at risk. Combining the lack of network security at football stadiums with the fact that thousands of mobile devices are all in one centralized location, can give attackers all the motivation they need.

What’s a user to do? First, they should protect themselves against the biggest risk which is loss of their device due to theft or accident by using a device pin or passcode. Next, they need to be aware of new security issues that are emerging because:

1. Mobile devices often do not limit Internet connections. Many mobile devices do not have firewalls to limit connections. That usually depends on the network. When a fan’s phone is connected to a wide area network (WAN) it uses communications ports to connect with other devices and the Internet. A hacker could access the mobile device through a port that is not secured. A firewall secures these ports and allows the user to choose what connections he wants to allow into the mobile device. Without a firewall, an intruder may be able to obtain sensitive information on the device and misuse it.

2. Wireless transmissions are not always encrypted. Information such as e-mails sent by a mobile device is usually not encrypted while in transit. In addition, many applications do not encrypt the data they transmit and receive over the network, making it easy for the data to be intercepted. For example, if a fan was using an application to pay for something at the stadium, his banking information could be hacked during that process. When a wireless transmission is not encrypted, data can be easily intercepted.

3. Many mobile devices often do not use security software. Many mobile devices do not come preinstalled with security software to protect against malicious applications, spyware and malware-based attacks. Without this software, and combined with the weak network security at stadiums, fans may face an increased risk that an attacker could successfully distribute malware such as viruses, Trojans, spyware, and spam to lure users into revealing passwords or other confidential information.

User’s needs regarding security of mobile devices are vital – not only when at home or the office, but in public places such as a football stadium. As we prepare for another football season, be mindful of your security measures so that your mobile device isn’t sacked!