Don’t get blindsided while streaming sports online

A family of four sits on the couch, each watching online streaming on their own device.

Learn the dangers that come with streaming sports online and how you can avoid fumbling your info and getting sacked by cybercriminals.

Every year, excitement builds as our favorite teams gear up and get set to take to the big stage to hash it out on the field. We can’t wait until it’s time to break out the snacks, claim our favorite spot on the couch, and maybe even slap on some face paint as we turn on the game. But catching all of the action goes beyond switching on the television. In your search for streaming glory this season, don’t give cybercriminals an open lane to score your personal data.

Subscribing to every single service available can be expensive, and with so many games spread across the globe and a wide variety of leagues, it can be tempting to cheat the system with a sketchy streaming service. But this often comes with a price much heftier than you or your wallet can bear, especially when we’ve seen attacks spike as much as 154% coinciding with kickoff time.

Cybercriminals love to capitalize on human emotion, and a fan’s eagerness to see their squad take home a win is a strong one. So, before you tune in to kickoff, let's review the dangers that come with streaming games online and gather some tips on how you can do it while keeping your info safe.

Mobbed by malware

You're a defensive end who just came off the edge unblocked. You have an open lane to the quarterback. This is a dream come true. And then BAM! You’re smacked with the biggest hit of your life from a pulling guard. This is what it feels like when you’re promised free streaming, only for your device to get infected with malware. If you’ve ever been on the hunt for a link to stream the game at no extra cost, then you’ve most likely dealt with the same obstacles:

  • A layer of popups in front of the video revealing great offers if you just click through to them. These are often phishing scams that can result in your data being stolen. 
  • A page telling you that in order to view the match, you must first download the required software. Surprise: You’re actually downloading a virus.

The moral of this story? When something is offered to you for free and seems too good to be true, it probably is.

How you can better protect the ball

Don’t get sacked for being a quick clicker. Your best defense is a good offense. Here are a few ways to score a W when it comes to protecting your devices. 

  • Choose authorized viewing methods
    You’re not a bandwagon fan. You’ve stuck with your club through thick and thin. Now it's time to do the same and show your loyalty to official sites–even if that means paying to view authentic content.
  • Think before you click
    The players on the field may be sprinting, but you should slow down and take your time when it comes to opening up suspicious links, pop-ups, and content. Confirm links go where they say they’ll go at the bottom-left corner of your browser, or use a link checker
  • Use security software
    Think of a reliable security software as the goalie. Except, rather than blocking the ball and keeping the offense from scoring, it blocks any dangerous pop-ups and sites before they can cause serious harm to you or your device.

Fake fans and websites running a trick play

It’s common for fans to hop on social media in search of ways they can watch the game unfold. They’ll scour every platform in search of kind-hearted peers in the comments who provide a link so that others can easily stream on their phone or laptop for free.

More often than not, this fellow good-natured fan is actually a cybercriminal baiting you with fake promises. As it turns out, @fo0tba1lLover87 isn’t so trustworthy. Once you click, you’re redirected to a false site claiming to provide the content you seek. So, how can you spot these fake sites and avoid giving away your personal info like a free kick? Learn to look for these tell-tale signs:

  1. Rookie mistakes
    Scammers don't normally put a lot of effort into their sites. Compared to a legit business, these spoofed websites are filled to the brim with grammatical and spelling errors, graphics that are out of context, and inconsistent fonts.
  2. Plug-in to play
    Once you have been redirected to a fake website, you may receive an alert saying that to view the stream you first need to download a video plug-in. This is actually malware in disguise, waiting to infect your computer.
  3. Ballgame bargain
    The hotdog vendor wouldn’t offer you a frank for free…unless he just dropped it on the stadium floor. The same goes for legit streaming companies. They will usually charge a small fee for accessing their content. So, if a site claims to have free access, there’s a good chance that it could be a scam or illegally streaming pirated content.
  4. Never-ending links
    Once you click, the site directs you to another page with another link. You click again and are directed to yet another page filled with even MORE links. You go around in circles, never able to access the content you’re searching for. It’s like witnessing turnover after turnover with no team ever scoring–except this time, instead of a tie game, you end up with stolen information.

With the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, staying protected while you watch your team online this season should be a top priority. By following these tips and utilizing Norton's solutions, you can stream with confidence.

Clare Stouffer
  • Clare Stouffer
  • Gen employee
Clare Stouffer, a Gen employee, is a writer and editor for the company’s blogs. She covers various topics in cybersecurity.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. Our offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about Cyber Safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses. The Norton and LifeLock brands are part of Gen Digital Inc. 


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