Every fourth year something special happens in the world of football (or “soccer” if you are reading this in the US).
The best players in the game lay aside their club loyalties and come together for a celebration of the beautiful game in which nations battle it out to be crowned as world champions.
It is a time of great joy for millions of people and that joy and energy can be felt around the globe as the FIFA World Cup kicks off once more.
Even if you are not a football fan yourself it is hard to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of the event as friends, family and the media will be talking about little else over the next few weeks – in many respects the World Cup is a bigger event than the Superbowl or even the Olympics.
But just like many other great events in life, there is a dark side to the World Cup. If you have been watching the news recently then you may well be aware that all is not well in the host nation of Brazil. Preparations for the event were marred by the news that far too many workers were killed during the construction of the various stadiums, and the average Brazilian is not happy about the high cost of the event, claims of corruption and forced evictions. There are a lot of political issues surrounding the World Cup and people want to draw attention to them whilst they have the interest of the world’s media.
So if you have flown to Brazil to show your support for your country then you need to at least be aware of the potential for rioting and looting, but there are other security issues to consider too. Ticket touts and pick pockets will likely be a concern in and around the various footballing stadiums but there are technological threats too.
Hackers love big events such as the World Cup as they present an opportunity to part the hapless from their money. Football fever can be like a red mist to some and common sense can often be found discarded on the side of the road as fans get caught up in the excitement.
But it isn’t only the travelling fans who need to be on their guard – everyone watching from a distance needs to keep their wits about them too.
Just like with any big news or sporting event, the bad guys of the internet are going to use the World Cup to their advantage and the low cost of sending out email ensures that medium will likely feature heavily in their thinking.
You can probably expect to receive mail offering World Cup merchandise at lower than expected prices over the next few weeks but do not be tempted by it and remember that if something seems to good to be true then it almost certainly should be avoided.
You also need to be aware that cyber criminals will be looking to trick you into clicking on fake links which are designed to steal you personal and financial information.
Recent research by Proofpoint has reinforced the notion that phishing emails do still work as around 1 in 10 users still click on such links. Furthermore, the company says that malware downloaded as a result of clicking on links typically stays invisible to the user for many months before detection, giving an attacker ample opportunity to complete their objectives.
Proofpoint has already detected World Cup-themed phishing emails, including one that informs the recipient that they have won a pair of tickets to a match. In reality, however, the user who “clicks on the link will instead win an infected computer.”
Another example discovered by the company features an email that appears to come from a Brazilian credit card company. Recipients may be enticed to apply for a World Cup-themed piece of plastic but the online application page is far from genuine, asking for all the information an identity thief could want, including your current credit card limit.
So if you receive an email about the World Cup tournament make sure you vet who sent it to you. If it is from someone that you do not know then either delete or send it to the spam folder of your email account. At the very least if you do decide to read it (not advisable), do not click on any links that may be in the email. Just as you wouldn’t accept candy from a stranger, it is never a good idea to click on strange links at any time of the year.