Question: What do an obscure New York State elections oversight board and the world’s biggest sporting event have in common?
Answer: Not much except both are excellent candidates for Web site disruptions, digital graffiti and other cyberattacks by the legion of hackers looking to capitalize on the massive attention being paid to the World Cup, which kicks off Thursday in Brazil.
In the lead up to the tournament, FIFA officials and Brazilian authorities have been working hard to tighten physical security around the country. They’re also under pressure to step up the Web security as hackers step up their targeting FIFA, World Cup sponsors and Brazil government resources.
This World Cup promises to be the most wired, Internet-friendly games yet seen. FIFA is providing a variety of online services, from live desktop streaming of the matches to mobile apps and an entire social media hub. Sponsors such as Budweiser, Coca Cola, McDonalds and many others are also hoping to catch the attention of millions of online football fans around the world as well by promoting giveaways and bonus gifts for those visiting their sites.
All of that is proving to be a tempting target for cyber mischief.
The shadowy band of pranksters that calls itself Anonymous has been busy posting videos promising massive online attacks under the battle flag #OpWorldCup. The group is already claiming responsibility for already temporarily taking down websites for a variety Brazilian sites such as those for cities Sao Bento and Indaial, as well as the Brazilian Intelligence Agency.
They’re also claiming responsibility for a video slapped up onto the Web site of the New York Board of Elections. The video, first reported by The New York Observer, features an ominous warning about the astronomic costs of hosting the games, in a country where much of the population still remains impoverished.
One hacker, calling himself “Che Commodore”, told the Reuters news service that hackers have already been probing the websites of major sponsors and Brazilian financial centers to find weaknesses.
“We have a plan of attack. This time we are targeting the sponsors of the World Cup,” Che told Reuters.
Hackers are likely to employ a variety of methods to bring down or seize control of websites, from relatively sophisticated phishing scams to brute force DDoS attacks.
Here’s the latest Anonymous video (Extra credit to anyone who can name the music in the soundtrack. Sure sounds like the theme to the Batman movies…)