The Super Bowl is the biggest cash cow in American sports – millions watch on TV, making ads extremely expensive. But because thousands also bet on various outcomes of the game, fraudsters are eager to exploit the rush, experts say.
As the Philadelphia Eagles are getting ready to face off against Kansas City Chiefs on February 12 in Arizona, bookmakers in the US and elsewhere are hoping for new bettors to wager a record-breaking amount of cash for this year’s game.
According to Sumsub, a global verification platform, a huge jump in traffic of more than 83% at sportsbooks around the Super Bowl is expected. However, fraudsters are also looking for their cut of these profits, the company said.
Cybercriminals are likely to target bookmakers who tend to skip user verification checks to onboard new bettors faster. Companies could be tempted to cut some expenses that are expected with an increase in user traffic.
But their rush to bring in new customers by minimizing security processes is poised to make the final game of the season “the biggest day of the year” for cyberattacks, hacking, personal data theft, and fraud, Sumsub said.
“Though major sporting events attract much-desired traffic to betting platforms, cybercriminals and scammers increase in number as well, so bookmakers need to take extra care,” Andrew Sever, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Sumsub, explained.
If bookmakers decide to sacrifice verification accuracy for speed, regulatory sanctions may be imposed, the company said. Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes, was fined £17 million ($20.6 million) – the largest ever fine demanded by the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission – for failing to enforce player security and anti-money laundering measures.
The risk here emerges from the fact that bookmakers handle a large volume of personal data in the run-up to major events, during the events themselves, and in the aftermath. Threat actors can use this information to arrange phishing or credential-stuffing attacks.
And the numbers are huge. Last year’s Super Bowl registered more than 101 million viewers, according to the Nielsen consultancy, while American fans continue to bet on major sporting events.
Besides, more US states legalized gambling after a federal ban was removed. According to Sumsub, the online betting industry registered a growth of $2 billion by the end of 2022, and it was mostly driven by sports pools.
Fraud is increasing in the gaming sector. In Q1 2022, fraud increased 50.1% compared to Q1 2021. There was also an 85% increase in fake account registrations compared to Q4 2021. The upcoming Super Bowl is expected to attract even more fraudsters, Sumsub said.
“Big sporting events and hacking go hand in hand and the bigger the event, the more threats there are. Attackers can be individual hacker groups looking to make a quick buck or politically oriented groups wanting to steal sensitive information,” said Sever.
Cyberattacks range from hacking into match broadcasts and security cameras to stealing the personal data of athletes, organizers, and spectators. Sumsub says more attention needs to be paid to collecting and storing user data securely, as well as increasing the overall resistance of betting platforms to hackers.
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