This year’s Rugby World Cup will provide thrills, spills and potentially spoils for hackers
It’s Rugby World Cup time in Japan, with the first round of rugby union’s most elite competition kicking off over the weekend. During the next few weeks, thousands of fans will travel far and wide across the country to soak up the action. In addition to bringing bundles of optimism about their teams’ prospects, die-hard supporters will arrive armed with a legion of connected devices.
Major sporting events of this kind place untold pressures on networking infrastructure, which has to withstand millions of connection requests throughout the competition. Aside from uptime, local network teams have to be prepared for attackers intent on taking advantage of a honeypot of connected fans.
To get a sense of the protections that need to be put in place to secure networks during pinnacle sporting events, Techerati spoke to Ronan David, VP of Strategy at networking specialists EfficientIP.
Although the company has not been called up for World Cup networking duties, during this years’ Roland Garros grand slam tennis tournament a variety of its products were put to the test. The event had a record number of attendees (around 520,000) and the company said its network did not suffer any major breaches.
Ronan says vast numbers of fans connected to isolated networks presents a prime opportunity for hackers to target groups of people with a known common interest. In the worst-case scenario, they could wreak havoc by exfiltrating personal data and installing malware. In addition, they might coordinate volumetric attacks, where large amounts of traffic or packet requests are sent to all devices on the network, potentially delaying or blocking access altogether.
Hackers seeking financial gain will primarily target fans with phishing scams fraudulently promising cheap tickets. But it’s not just fans’ data that is at risk of course, just consider the media, teams and VIPs in attendance. Leaked data could alter betting odds and, if tactics leave the confines of the dressing room, change the course of the competition altogether.
“DNS attacks are not the only threats when it comes to network performance at sporting events,” Ronan adds. “The quality of networks and services delivered are also key to the event’s reputation. High latency, slow response times and poor coverage can prevent access to vital apps, meaning journalists and broadcasters may not be able to cover the event as intended, and sports fans may be unable to load tickets or get vital information about the ongoing events.”