FIFA Russia Digital Threats

Everyone’s Excited for FIFA But What About The Cyber Threats

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is going to kick off on June 14 in Russia, with the first match set to be played in Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow. With the quadrennial sporting event of the year all ready to commence in a few hours, cyber criminals in and outside Russia have also fasten their seat belts to bait and exploit unsuspecting FIFA fans travelling to Russia and across the world.

According to recent speculations, FIFA fans who are eagerly searching for flight bookings, hotel reservations and other relevant deals are prone to threats like phishing attacks. Whereas, fans who are ready to fly to Russia to watch FIFA world cup 2018 live are vulnerable to unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots, as reported by Kaspersky Lab.

Read on to find out more.

So, what’s cooking?

Large-scale events have always proven to be a treasure-trove of opportunities for criminals, both cyber and otherwise, prompting them to lay their traps and catch and exploit as many users as possible. Take for instance the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in Brazil.

In the last FIFA world cup, security experts had to face a similar situation when it came to online security threats. In fact, there was a series of web defacement and DDoS attacks against different websites and organizations.

Another incident, which is more recent than the 2014 FIFA world cup, is the Winter Olympics. Yet another grand-scale event, the 2018 winter games was also no exception to the ever-growing security threats. In fact, the opening ceremony of the event faced a state-sponsored attack through a malware that resulted in the interruption of TV and online stream broadcasts.

Similar to all the past incidents, the FIFA world cup 2018 has also been prophesized to garner the same level of attention of cyber thieves in and outside of Russia.

Kaspersky Lab Reports 20% Unsecure Wi-Fi Hotspots in Host Cities

Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab recently analyzed public Wi-Fi hotspots in the host cities and found that over 7000 (around 20%) Wi-Fi access points were unsecure. In fact, the researchers also reported that many Wi-Fi access points don’t even use standard encryption algorithms, which is a must for secure communications.

According to the report, out of the 11 host cities, 3 cities – Rostov, Kaliningrad, and Saint Petersburg – had the highest number of unsecure Wi-Fi access points.

Addressing the issue, security researchers stated that cybercriminals only need to be near the unreliable Wi-Fi to catch unprepared users by intercepting the traffic when they connect to the Wi-Fi.

The security company advised fans looking to fly to Russia to attend the FIFA world cup that they must ensure the reliability of the Wi-Fi network before connecting. In fact, users must use encryption tools to ensure data security and integrity.

Phishing Attacks & Scams are on the Rise amidst FIFA Event

FIFA fans, who are planning to fly to Russia to catch the event live, are often on the lookout for cheap tickets, cheap flights, hotel reservations and such. Keeping this in mind, many cyber criminals create websites that appear to cater such customers but on the contrary send phishing emails.

Phishing emails are designed while keeping in mind users’ emotions and needs so the message can prompt users to click on the link that contains malicious script. As a result, the malicious script forwards user’s sensitive data to the owner (cybercriminals or other third-parties).

Apart from phishing emails, there are also some websites that run scam promotions related to the event being trended such as FIFA world cup.

What Users Can Do To Stay Protected?

  • First of all, it is imperative that you trust only those websites that are officially dealing with the promotions related to FIFA. For instance, you can get tickets from the official FIFA website or from the registered agents.
  • Secondly, don’t just open any email or click any link that catches your attention. First, ensure that who you are dealing with is reliable. Secondly, learn how you can prevent yourself from falling victim to phishing attacks.
  • Finally, almost all public Wi-Fi hotspots or access points are prone to hacking, spying, spoofing and such. Therefore, it is important to use security tools like a VPN (virtual private network) to connect to public Wi-Fis as it provides military-grade encryption and security.

Final Thoughts

FIFA is just around the corner, so it is common to expect high level of enthusiasm and excitement from FIFA fans. However, keeping the growing cybersecurity threats in mind, it is important that we prepare ourselves with the right tools so we can enjoy the grand sporting event, without falling victim to any cyber threat.

An information security analyst in the making, a father of an adorable kid and a technology writer (Contributor). He can be found lurking around top network security blogs, looking for scoops on information security and privacy trends.

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