The opening football match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is just 10 days away, and while the tournament is surrounded by controversy over the host country’s human rights record, among other things, it will inevitably attract massive attention from all over the world, with a TV audience expected to number well into the billions.
Inevitably, the World Cup is also already starting to attract the attention of cyber criminals and other threat actors, who, as has been seen time and time again, are adept at appropriating significant events and incorporating them into their campaigns.
The Digital Shadows Photon research team have been tracking cyber threats coalescing around the World Cup over the past 90 days using a specially created alert system. They have found that broadly, threats to the event can be arranged into four categories – brand protection, cyber threat, physical protection and data leakages. Of these, most of the observed activity relates to the cyber threat category.
“Scams could present themselves in many forms,” the Photon team wrote in a newly published online advisory. “For instance, financially motivated threat actors often plant in malicious URLs spoofing these events to fraudulent sites, hoping to maximise their chances of scamming naive internet users for a quick, illicit, profit.
“At the same time, hacktivist groups may exploit the public attention given to such events to exponentially increase the reach of their message. State-sponsored advanced persistent threat (APT) groups may also decide to target global sporting events to achieve state goals to the hosting country or the broader event community.”
In the course of their research, the Photon team encountered hundreds of online threats, many of which are clearly set up to target the general public, exploiting both their…