A Look forward to the Russian World Cup
The World Cup in 2014, hosted by Brazil, saw a large amount of hacktivist activity and the Russian World Cup in 2018 is likely to see a similar, although smaller, amount. Previous campaigns include #OpWorldCup, #OpHackingCup, #OpMundial2014 and #OpBrazil, which had a variety of successful attacks including DDoS and data leaks. Controversies exist surrounding Russia’s successful bid for the World Cup 2018, which reflect a similar theme to the previous hacktivist motivations for attacks against Brazil, namely alleged state corruption. The conditions in-country, however, somewhat mute the chances of cyberattacks across the 2018 World Cup.
It is unlikely that the level of street protests seen in Brazil in 2014 will be repeated across Russia in 2018. Although street protests do occur, the Russian state law enforcement will be at heightened awareness for such events during the World Cup period. The televised or reported protests help publicise hacktivist activity and the likely denial of such activity during the Russian World Cup will impact on the amount of hacktivists actively campaigning.
There are also nuances in the different potential hacktivist motivations for attacking Brazil compared to Russia. @Anonymous’ announcement of a 2014 boycott, media coverage of the infrastructure development displacing residents and the deaths of many stadium workers due to unsafe labour practices preceded the event. These specific conditions are yet to be seen in Russia. However, other aspects, such as perceived police brutality, have. In the case of Brazil, this resulted in several attacks against law enforcement websites.
In March 2018, several defacement attacks against Russian websites have been announced. In separate attacks @ThePenguinsPlace and @FSecurity targeted a variety of private company websites, claiming responsibility on Twitter. In the weeks leading up to and during the World Cup 2018, these type of attacks will change to target government websites. It is also expected that more hacktivists will conduct similar activity closer to the event, although an official campaign has yet to be announced.
The threats to businesses with significant ties to the World Cup 2018 are DDoS, website defacement and data leaks. Hacktivist activity has not been associated with particularly complex or high volume DDoS attacks and, with a lack of an official campaign, defacement and data leaks are only likely to affect “low hanging fruit”.