This Sunday marked the commencement of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and threat actors will be increasing their efforts to con football enthusiasts. Threat actors try to leverage worldwide events in their cyber attacks. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event of the year and is expected to be watched by billions of people, making it the ideal occasion for them to attempt to profit from.

The creation of domains that imitate event sponsors and its brand has become a popular strategy during previous World Cups. Then, they are employed to send phishing emails or lure site users to click on harmful links. The majority of emails and texts promoting tickets, rewards, and other tournament-related benefits are probably phishing scams.

174 rogue domains posing as official World Cup 2022 Qatar webpages were discovered by Digital Shadows. In addition, during the previous 30 days, 53 mobile apps from fake stores have been discovered, and numerous social media pages faking Qatar 2022 World Cup assets have been reported.

Cyber-attacks by hacktivists and state-sponsored groups could also be a problem. Most likely, Russian attack groups will engage in activities as a result of FIFA’s decision to suspend the Russian national team following its invasion of Ukraine. Zimbabwe and Kenya were also suspended this year, although they lack the same resources in the form of a well-resourced and coordinated attacking community. Iran will likely be the other highly developed and dissatisfied country to keep an eye on. The nation’s participation is being questioned given that it appears to be in violation of some FIFA standards requirements and has highly competent cyber operators among its people.

What Should You Do?

Digital security should always be monitored carefully, not only during important athletic events. For businesses, prevention begins with securing all potential points of entry for attackers and minimizing the attack surface to stop the introduction of malware. Training and education still remain one of the most effective ways to stave attacks and employees should constantly be reminded not to click links they have received, but rather manually type the URL or use the site’s navigation.

Updated security patches must also be applied to all systems and continuous network monitoring for anomalous behaviors should be performed in conjunction with a thorough incident response plan.

Rooting for Security

“Fraudsters use events like this because it is big and important and exciting and folks’ guard is down,” said PJ Rohall, head of fraud strategy and education at SEON, a cybersecurity firm. “They are high on the moment and will take action and do things they normally wouldn’t do. And that’s not just the world cup, that’s why scammer leverage many different emotionally impactful events – to prey on excitement (or fear) to separate folks from their traditional way of acting.” 

User awareness is key to safety at a global event like the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. High emotions and excitement make it difficult, but not impossible, to act responsibly and follow security guidelines. 

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