Soccer fans are excited about the World Cup. So are cybercriminals.


Aerial view of the Maracana stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, June 8, 2014. The Word Cup soccer tournament is set to begin in just a few days, with the opening match on June 12 and Maracana stadium will host the World Cup Final match on 13 July. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

As soccer fans around with globe prepare for the World Cup, hackers are getting excited, too, according to a new report on cybersecurity in Latin America from Symantec. The tournament, which kicks off this week in Brazil, is a "rich target for criminals," the cybersecurity company said.

Consumers should be on the lookout for malware and phishing attacks that use the event to lure in unsuspecting users, Symantec said.

In one attack, the firm said, hackers pretend to be a major Brazilian credit and debit card operator and send phishing e-mails to trick users into visiting a Web site that asks them to enter their username, date of birth and Brazilian tax registration number. Another attack targeting financial institutions prompts users to download a "free ticket" to the tournament, only to infect their systems with a Trojan malware that collects confidential data.

International hacking groups with ideological leanings are also interested in the World Cup, including Anonymous, according to Symantec. The company noted that Anonymous has made threats against FIFA's official Web sites, corporate sponsors of the game, and the Brazillian government.

In fact, according to Reuters: Anonymous has already gotten in on the action. Hackers affiliated with the group attacked Brazil's Foreign Ministry computer networks and leaked 333 documents, the outlet reported in May. The agency was forced to close down its E-mail system and ask 3,000 account holders to change their passwords. Some diplomats abroad were reportedly left without e-mail communications with their headquarters for several days. Anonymous is also rumored to be plotting attacks against World Cup sponsors, according to Reuters.

While the World Cup is the big news this week, Symantec believes sporting events in general are juicy targets for cybercriminals and noted that similar cyber trends emerged during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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