The total eclipse of the sun taking place August 21 across much of the North American hemisphere has triggered a mass migration of millions, as people journey to the narrow swath of the country where the moon will completely black out the sun.
But while millions are presently en route to their prime chosen destination, there is an even greater multitude of individuals taking less physically stressful, but more technologically demanding perspective towards this rare event.
“Why drive for five hours to see this?” one daughter asked. “I’ll just go the library and watch this online – They’ve got a great internet connection and it’s much less hassle.”
She has a point. And, the chances of damaging her retina by staring at the sun without protective eyewear are also nonexistent.
Get ahead of the jam (the cybercriminals are)
There is a distinct possibility that some of those last-minute drivers, zooming north to intersect the eclipse, will not make it. They will get stuck in a massive traffic jam, the likes of which will exceed the previously yuge crowds at international sporting events and presidential inaugurations. In desperation, they will park their cars and surf online for a live streaming broadcast of the event that they had hoped to see in real time. And, there is a distinct probability that they will find some phishing sites serving up adware, malvertising or worse.
Astronomers and cybercriminals plan ahead
Astronomers – professional and amateurs –have planned for this event for years. Cybercriminals less so, but they use their existing templates and poisoned image strategies, making new campaigns simple to roll out.
Here is a basic malware forecast for the day: Look out for phishing sites with streaming video content – they may appear to be professional sites run by astronomy clubs but do have a different definitely malicious purpose.
They will be similar to the live streaming sites providing “free” access to professional sports events. Viewers will most likely find them by doing a search engine quest with the key words of “eclipse” and “live streaming.” A likely SEO addition will be the name of a major city such as Portland, Oregon where there will be a near-total shutout of the sun. It’s likely that these sites will appear to offer a free view of this event, but will instead serve malvertising or nag viewers into downloading a special viewer that is riddled with adware or, even worse, malware.
Follow the stars, not the search engine
The safest strategy is to go directly to a reputable site and follow their streaming of this 2.5-minute event. Or, when searching for information, simply chose the organization that you already recognize. From the technical perspective, you should also have your device Antivirus in place together with the supplementary phishing shield which is incorporated into the Avira Protection Cloud, and – if possible – a supplemental browser plugin for safe browsing. In this way, you and your device can be protected from phishing sites serving a range of undesirable code such as adware, spurious video players, and genuine malware.
And as for me, I’m going to the library.
Official streaming sites: