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Fake websites touting free Tokyo Olympic livestreams proliferating: security firm

An illicit website claiming to provide free livestreams for sporting events is seen in this image provided by Trend Micro Inc.
Internet search results showing a list of fake sites claiming to provide access to Tokyo Olympic event TV broadcasts are seen in this image provided by Trend Micro Inc.
A fake site claiming to provide free access to a livestream of the Japan-Australia Olympic softball game on July 21, 2021 is seen in this image provided by Trend Micro Inc.

TOKYO -- If you come across a website claiming it can tap you into live broadcasts of Tokyo Olympic events for free, it may very well be one of several fake pages based both inside and outside Japan recently identified by internet security giant Trend Micro Inc. that directs visitors to suspicious sports livestreaming sites.

    Clicking through to the livestreaming site, the Trend Micro investigation found, exposes you to malicious ads, and the company is cautioning people against casually accessing pages trying to take advantage of the Olympics to suck in unsuspecting internet users.

    According to the firm, it had identified at least six fake pages directing people to illicit sports streaming sites as of July 21. On that day, Trend Micro discovered pages claiming to provide free access to a live broadcast on Japanese public broadcaster NHK of the Japan-Australia Olympic softball game. On July 19, it found several fake pages using the names of real Japanese broadcasters including TV Osaka and BS TV Tokyo.

    The page found on July 21 was designed to show up in search engine results for words related to Olympic events. The URLs are under the domains of U.S. and European companies, and it is possible that the pages are tampered versions of these company's sites.

    Clicking the play button or otherwise interacting with these fake pages redirects the visitors to sites claiming to be livestreaming sporting events. If the visitor then clicks on any of the images on these pages, they will then be asked to enable site notifications. Doing so on a machine running Microsoft Windows will cause a page to pop up every time the computer is started claiming the operating system is damaged and urging the user to buy security software, Trend Micro said. However, there is in fact no system damage, and the sites appear designed simply to take advantage of the Olympics to rake in online advertising revenue.

    Some of the fake sites do not show up in searches but are available on the web, meaning the creators could be using other methods such as spam emails to drive traffic to the pages. Trend Micro also warned that more of these sites could appear as the Olympic events schedule progresses.

    Trend Micro Senior Analyst Junsuke Sawarame told the Mainichi Shimbun, "For past Olympics, we found fake ticketing sites. But with almost no fans at venues for the Tokyo Games, and many public viewing events canceled, it's possible that cybercrimes are proliferating around counterfeit websites claiming to be providing TV broadcasts or livestreams of the games."

    (Japanese original by Shunsuke Sekitani, Tokyo City News Department)

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