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NFL fans gearing up for fantasy football -- and so are hackers

PHOENIX -- Fantasy football is one of the fastest growing industries -- making it rife with fraud potential.

According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), almost $1.7 billion was spent on fantasy football in 2012, and in 2013, there were nearly 26 million fantasy football players in the United States.

"Anybody in the world can take part in fantasy football, (so) it makes users vulnerable to fraud," explained Robert Siciliano, online security expert for McAfee. That fraud happens when they're communicating with others that might send them links that could lead to an infected download. In some cases, they could receive an email with an attachment that could also lead to an infection."

Siciliano added that when someone accesses your computer, it's not just one person who has your personal information, it's a whole network.

"In this day and age, criminal hackers are all involved in organized web mobs," he said. "If the bad guy owns your email, he basically owns you. The word 'sophisticated' is thrown around a lot, and these hackers really are."

He said everyone should always be proactive regarding information, not just those playing fantasy football.

"Be very careful about opening attachments or downloading files. Make sure you have antivirus, anti-spyware and a firewall," he advised. "If you have your device security up to par and with having critical security patches updated, in general, you should be in pretty good shape."

And when it comes to passwords, make sure that they are long and strong.

"If your device is compromised, it allows a backdoor into your machine, which means while you're in bed at 2 a.m. asleep, you could have a hacker from somewhere else in the world log onto your device via a remote access Trojan [virus]," explained Siciliano. "They could see all of the places you were throughout the day and all the websites you visited and get your user names and passwords, (including) banking and credit card accounts."

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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