According to Paul Wood, senior analyst at Symantec Hosted Services, the tournament, which attracts the attention of more than 1 billion soccer fans worldwide, is becoming a theme for cybercriminals. “Historically, any large-scale sporting event has shown an increase in all kinds of cyberthreats,” said Wood. “Phishing attacks increased by 66 percent during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The fact that two undersea communications cables landed on South African shores last July will exacerbate the threat levels; history also shows that malicious activity increases in a country after new bandwidth is made available.”
Symantec has already installed additional network sensors in South Africa and southern Africa to monitor traffic and feed information to customers who are looking to take steps to secure their networks against additional threats. “As an example, two of our configured partners in Africa have submitted unique malicious files that have not been seen elsewhere by Symantec,” said Wood.
Much of the threat activity will not be new to the world of cybercrime – so-called 419 scams, spam and phishing attacks will face users in the guise of special offers for the event. “The rule is, if something looks too good to be true, then it’s likely to be a scam,” said Gordon Love, Africa regional director, Symantec. “Also, in all cases these days a cybercriminal is looking to steal a user’s personal information – identity details, bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers – to steal money from a user. The 2010 Net Threat site will aim to tell people how they can protect themselves against such attacks.”
Internet users must be on the alert for new varieties of scam. “Attackers are even going as far as ensuring their fake Web sites or sites they have ‘poisoned’ with malicious code appear at the top of search results,” said Love. “Users tend to assume that the sites that appear first tend to be legitimate, and may click on them without first examining the source.”
By the time the World Cup kicks off, 3.1 million tickets will have been sold. More than 400 million people worldwide will watch each match on television. The number of fans using the Internet to find tickets, accommodation, flights and ways to stay connected to this year’s most popular sporting event will amount to hundreds of millions.
“The site will provide people with the information they need to protect themselves on the Internet,” said Love. “However, attackers are always finding new ways of duping people into disclosing their personal information. Being well informed and alert is as important as keeping up to date with the latest protection software updates.”