With the Group Stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup now well underway, security companies are warning that cybercriminals are likely to use the interest stirred up by the event to launch cyber attacks.
Network and endpoint security company Sophos noted that cyber attacks often go hand in hand with major sporting events, including the World Cup, as criminals exploit the fevered interest stirred up in incautious sporting fans.
There has already been a long history of World Cup cyber threats, including a virus with a backdoor sent under the pretence of free tickets during Germany 2006, a blackmail of online betting sites with threats of DDoS attacks during South Africa 2010.
A virus deployed during France 1998 also had users gamble on the winner of the Cup, with the wrong choice leading to all data being wiped from a victim’s drive, while in South Korea 2002, a virus posing as a web utility giving up-to-the-minute updates was distributed via email and IM.
Sophos noted that awareness is generally greater this year, with teams including the English Football Association warning players not to use public Wi-Fi in Russia due to fears of hacking.
But the company noted that it is important that organisations and people remain vigilant at all times about the increased threat.
Meanwhile, Akamai Technologies Director of Security Technology Patrick Sullivan noted that the company has historically noticed declines in cyber attacks while games are actually underway — until there’s a clear winner.
“Once games are well in hand, attacks from the losing team’s nation spike well above normal. This often takes the form of attacks designed to take down news stories in the victor’s country that tout a home-team win,” he said.
“Activists also frequently use various forms of cyber attacks during major sporting events to protest the host nation — often targeting sponsors to get their point across. For example, protesters at the recent Brazilian World Cup that were upset with the amount of money spent.”