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Why should Cybersecurity be a concern during the World Cup in Qatar?

Why should Cybersecurity be a concern during the World Cup in Qatar?

Why should Cybersecurity
be a concern during the

World Cup in Qatar?

Every four years, fans from all over the world gather to cheer on their soccer teams at the World Cup. And this year, eyes will be on Qatar, which for almost a month will be the scene of disputes (on the field) between 32 nations classified for the tournament. And ensuring cybersecurity during this period will be a key task not only for the organization of the event, but also for the countries involved in the dispute. But what does cybersecurity have to do with the World Cup, you might ask?

With the rise of cyber threats, the holding of major events such as the Olympics and World Cups are a means for agents to carry out their malicious actions. And with reference to recent major events, there is no doubt that attackers will use the World Cup period to target parties involved in the event, including media companies involved in covering the event, sponsors and partners. It is worth remembering that not even the fans are left out of the attackers’ targets.

In the last World Cup held in Russia alone, more than 25 million attack attempts were detected and neutralized by the event's security services.

The Sport Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (Sports-ISAO), a body that promotes cybersecurity in the sports sector, has already warned that some World Cup-related attacks are already underway.

These attacks involve techniques such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), ransomware, malware, social engineering, data theft and breach, phishing and disinformation campaigns, and insider threats. In some cases, it is worth remembering, malicious agents carry out their actions supported by governments. For example, a fan may receive a message with a malicious link offering free access to World Cup match streamings. By clicking on the link, the user’s device can be compromised and attackers able to steal identities and sensitive data.

The purpose of these attacks is to disrupt live broadcasts, steal or leak sensitive data, or to negatively impact the infrastructure created to support the World Cup. In this way, it is possible to obtain financial advantages, increase the visibility of criminal groups and advance their ideological objectives.

But how can these stakeholders prepare to face the challenges associated with cybersecurity during the World Cup?

It is important to emphasize that we are currently experiencing an eternal cat and mouse race between malicious attackers and those responsible for Information Security in organizations. This means that whenever cybersecurity officers develop strategies to protect organizations from cyberattacks, attackers will develop ways to bypass them. And one of the most important steps in the strategy to combat cyber attacks is to develop an effective security plan.

This security plan must include the implementation of cybersecurity tools and solutions. These solutions involve aspects of prevention and detection, as well as response and remediation. For those not sure where to start, implementing identity protection solutions such as PAM and Multiple Factor Authentication (MFA) is a good starting point. Regarding MFA, it is a quick and efficient solution to reduce cybersecurity risks.

It must be remembered that there is no cybersecurity solution that cannot be bypass and that can eliminate security risks. Thus, another aspect that must be taken into account is effective cyber awareness combined with a strong cybersecurity culture. With the increasing sophistication of attacks, this is the best proactive defense to combat threats that could jeopardize major events like the World Cup. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report 2022: 

82% of data breaches involved the human aspect.

Building cyber awareness involves a robust training program to develop end users’ ability to distinguish, for example, a legitimate email message from a phishing scam. In addition, it is necessary to train administrators of implemented cybersecurity solutions to operate them and use all of their functionalities. In this way, it is possible to reduce the risk of both the user and the company being victims of cyber attacks. In addition to being able to enjoy all the World Cup games in Qatar in peace.

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