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Hackers Zero-in On Brazil’s World Cup

Close up to a keyboard with the Brazil flag lighted up in the

Elite soccer players aren’t the only group waiting to score big in the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Brazilian hackers are gearing up for all-out cyber warfare, threatening to target the World Cup with attacks ranging from jamming websites to data theft. Identity theft could also be part of the collateral damage. If you’re planning on using any websites tied into the World Cup, you may want to consider buying identity theft insurance.

The hackers plan to show support for fellow Brazilians who protested the $14 billion in government funds spent on World Cup preparations. Last year, over a million Brazilians voiced their anger in mass demonstrations, demanding funding for improved public services and an end to government dishonesty. Hackers have promised to target sites operated by FIFA, the government, and other organizers or corporate sponsors.

The country is concentrating on getting the stadiums ready for the tournament start date of June 12, and security experts are concerned that there is little focus on Brazil’s telecommunications organization – they agree it’s only a matter of time when the World Cup will be targeted.

Brazil has several problem areas that make it an easy target for hackers:

•    Overloaded networks
•    Widespread use of pirated software increases exposure to a denial-of-service attack
•    Minimal investment in online security
•    Brazil is home to Anonymous, one of the world’s most sophisticated cyber-criminal communities

Anonymous is responsible for attacks on the Sony Corporation, the CIA, and even the Vatican. In 2012, it crippled websites of several of Brazil’s largest banks. The attack focused on widespread denial-of-service attacks, using thousands of computers to jam bank websites by accessing them at the same time, overloading the servers. The fear of a sophisticated attack to take out Brazil’s communications, power grid or air-traffic control systems is also a real concern for government officials.

Dangerous online security gaps

Online security breaches at large events have increased dramatically over the past few years. During a 2012 United Nations conference in Rio de Janeiro, the cyber command for Brazil’s army detected 140 attempted security breaches. And, at last year’s Confederations Cup, also held in Brazil, attacks more than doubled.

Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing areas of crime.  According to INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization, previously, cybercrime has been carried out by individuals or small bands of individuals. The tide has shifted, with traditional organized crime syndicates and tech savvy professionals joining forces to commit cybercrimes on a global scale – and they’ve got their sights set on the huge demand for online buyers seeking World Cup tickets.

Most of the attacks are “phishing” acts – buyers are redirected to fake sites of banks and firms, posing as trusted sites and then tricked into providing their credit card information. One online security firm said it is already blocking between 40 and 50 fraudulent sites every day, which are masquerading as legitimate World Cup sites.

If you’re planning to attend the World Cup and want to buy tickets online, follow safe practices:

•    Be sure the site is secure. Verify a URL that begins with “https://”
•    Don’t reply to any pop-up message or e-mail that requests you update or provide personal information.
•    Never leave your computer unattended while accessing online banking.
•    When you are done with a secure session, always log off completely and close your browser.
•    Don’t access your personal financial information from Internet kiosks and cyber cafes.
•    Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up-to-date.
•    Use a personal firewall on your computer.
•    Use only one credit card strictly for online transactions. Review your statements for any suspicious activity.

Even if you’re not traveling to watch the matches in person, it’s a good idea to periodically check your online cyber practices – and it wouldn’t hurt to have identity theft insurance protection.

How you been the victim of identity theft? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section

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