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Believe it or Not, Fantasy Football Can Pose a Serious Online Security Threat

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*The image above is an example of how easy it is to download a virus through a free fantasy football website.

The NFL season is back in action, and with it comes a surge in fantasy football participation The numbers are staggering: in 2013, the Fantasy Sports Trade Association estimated that 25 million American adults belonged to fantasy leagues; in 2014, that number rose to 57 million, while in 2015 it topped 75 million. Exact reports aren’t in just two days after 2016 kickoff, but it’s safe to say that within a couple of years, 100 million people — or roughly 1/3rd of the United States population — could be playing fantasy football.

From an IT perspective, those numbers reveal a dark reality. 100 million people using a plethora of free fantasy football websites means a sharp increase in potential infections, viruses, and data intrusions. Those can be caused any number of ways: by unwitting users clicking on the fake ads that often populate fantasy sites or downloading fantasy football apps from unknown publishers.

Recently, security experts have identified numerous bugs, malware compromises, and phishing attacks linked to fantasy football sites. At CMIT Solutions, we’ve seen clients reduce the number of infections striking their businesses from 5 per month to 1 per quarter, simply by employing dynamic layered security that keeps up with the changing digital landscape.

The best part? Those clients have often reduced their cost for IT services significantly — sometimes by a factor of four. How is that possible? By taking the following 5 recommendations seriously.

1.) Start with proactive monitoring and maintenance that keeps a 24×7 watch on your systems.

This allows your technology to stay up and stay running, which enhances efficiency and boosts productivity. Sick of worrying about software updates and security patches? Want your computers to just work, all day and every day? At CMIT Solutions, we specialize in managed services and professional data backup solutions that serve as the bedrock of any secure environment.

2.) Back that up with a strong firewall to create the first layer of security.

Although IT experts have come to realize that firewalls are not the be-all, end-all of system security, they do still represent a key step in security strategy. Intelligent firewall monitoring prohibits deep threats and is essential to safe business operation.

3.) Add in anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware solutions specifically designed to prevent infections that come from junk mail and online “malvertising.”

These kinds of attacks probably represent the most immediate threat to your company. Targeted malware attacks against small businesses have increased by approximately 10% each year since 2013, with an average loss of an astounding $92,000. Phishing attacks and social engineering attempts are on the rise, too — a European bank was recently scammed out of $44 million when an employee authorized an illicit wire transfer request made to look like it came from a company executive.

4.) Create an “umbrella” around your systems with Internet traffic evaluation, DNS filtering, content analysis, and cyberinsurance.

These extra add-ons expand your security perimeter to keep sophisticated attacks from entering your network. In addition, they analyze huge chunks of inbound and outbound web traffic to identify new cyberthreats and stay one step ahead of hackers. The core components of CMIT Solutions’ services are updated on a real-time basis, leveraging threat awareness in the business ecosystem.

5.) Go all in with employee training that can help prevent human error and cut infections even further.

All it takes is one click on the wrong link by one well-meaning employee to introduce viruses and infections into your whole system. That’s why automated security awareness training for your staff (and anyone else with access to your systems) is so critical. Consider the fantasy football example: stronger policies and procedures prohibiting personal web browsing on company time could have helped to prevent those infections.


That’s why, at CMIT Solutions, we focus on five steps: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover, all of which match the National Institue of Standards and Technology’s NIST Cybersecurity Framework Core. That means we manage risk, control access, monitor systems, plan for disasters, and put continuity contingencies into action when needed. Just like we have for clients whose biggest intransigence is a love of fantasy football.

Our goal when it comes to network and system security? Take care of all the details so that you can focus on growing your business and offering the best client service possible. Want to know more about how a secure IT environment free of infections and cyberattacks can help your company thrive? Contact CMIT Solutions today.

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