The World Cup Frenzy

Cyber Security, Events, Technology Posted Jul 13, 2018 by Kayla Krause

Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, it’s hard not to get caught up in the hysteria surrounding the World Cup. You see bars and restaurants offering food and drink deals in support of the teams, friends and family engaging in World Cup brackets, and people hosting parties to watch the games. Although the U.S. didn’t qualify, we still love a good sports match, and this year’s World Cup has been full of entertainment.

After recently getting back from a trip to Sweden, I can personally attest to getting swept up in the excitement of the soccer or, as they’d say, “football” games. Visiting a friend from college who is a Swede, it goes without saying that she and her family were very excited about their country being a part of the World Cup – Sweden’s last appearance was in 2006. Naturally, Sweden quickly became the team I was rooting for, and I must give them credit for beating out Mexico and Switzerland to make it to the quarter-finals (a pretty great feat after not qualifying for the Cup for 12 years.)

Though Sweden posed a great threat, there were some other risks that weren’t necessarily loud and physical, but rather silent.

Cybersecurity has proven to be a huge risk when large sports events like this take place, i.e., Winter Olympics 2018.  When there are hundreds of thousands of screaming fans, cybersecurity is most likely the last thing on their minds. That’s why events like the World Cup are a haven for cybercriminals. Just think about all those fans’ phones, tablets, and credit cards that cybercriminals can tap into with the slightest opening in Wi-Fi networks.

Experts advise going into these games with some cyber-awareness – and that goes for people streaming the World Cup on their TV or computer at home as well.

With a vast majority of fans and viewers focused on the game at hand, cybercriminals use this distraction in attempt to steal personally identifiable information (PII) or credit card information, etc. Perhaps the greatest vulnerabilities are prompted by Wi-Fi. Just like fellow CHENer Gabrielle noted in a previous blog on summer travel security tips, free Wi-Fi often doesn’t mean safe Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi that doesn’t require passwords means devices on those networks are that much more vulnerable to being intercepted by hackers.

Though no significant cyber-attacks have been reported, FIFA is warning all attendees and viewers to be careful, especially when it comes to unofficial merchandise and streaming the games online or bidding on gambling sites. These areas are where a lot of fraudulent charges occur, driven by hackers stealing personal and/or financial data.

As we saw earlier this year during the Winter Olympics opening ceremony in South Korea, which fell victim to The Bad Guys, these attacks are often unpredictable. With just one more game left and a lot of hype leading into the match, we should all remain vigilant when it comes our cybersecurity while partaking in the World Cup frenzy. Keep your devices locked and password-protected, and be careful when streaming the game.

Most importantly, enjoy the game on Sunday! And because I’m a firm believer in underdogs, GO CROATIA!!