Fans and businesses involved in the World Cup are at risk from an upsurge in cybercrime and online scams, an expert is warning.
Henry Wilkinson, chief intelligence officer at security intelligence firm Dragonfly, warns there will be a large increase in cybercrime targeting people and firms because of the number of people wanting to attend and travel there.
He says there is already evidence of a rise in the number of efforts to scam people planning to head to the tournament, which begins in Qatar on 20 November.
It comes as FIFA said there are only about half a million tickets left out of the three million that were due to go on sale.
Meanwhile, the risk to businesses will likely come from cyber attackers who attempt to extort money from those involved in such a high profile event.
Mr Wilkinson says: “There has been an increase in malicious online scams and phishing campaigns around international sporting events in recent years.
“Given the global popularity of the FIFA World Cup and the high demand for tickets and travel, cyber criminals will probably pursue similar activities over the next few months.
“There has already been a spike in newly-registered websites impersonating the FIFA 2022 World Cup page, showing that phishing campaigns are already up and running.
“We expect this to increase in the coming months… we expect phishing campaigns to revolve around the sale of tickets, travel and accommodation at ‘discounted’ prices… the installation of fake World Cup-related apps, malicious links offering promotional deals and illegal football streaming sites embedded with malware.”
He say that fans travelling to Qatar should be able to mitigate the risks by not clicking on suspicious links and only downloading official event-related apps from trusted and familiar sites.
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FIFA said on Thursday, that 2.45 million seats had been sold so far, with more than 500,000 seats still available.
The games in which Brazil play Serbia and Cameroon were among the most in-demand, it added.
Greatest demand was from Qatar and neighbouring countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but fans of England were in the top ten list of those seeking tickets.
The cheapest tickets for fans from outside Qatar are priced at 250 riyals (currently £58). Fans need a confirmed ticket purchase in order to be able to book places to stay in Qatar through an official tournament website.
Mr Wilkinson added: “For businesses, we expect online threats to be much more sophisticated, especially for hotel, aviation and technology firms given their importance to the logistical success of the event.
“These companies hold large amounts of customer data, and will therefore be perceived as financially-lucrative targets by cybercriminal groups.
“These groups are increasingly using coercive methods to extract payments from businesses. For example, cyber groups such as LockBit encrypt and disrupt access to victim’s systems, and then threaten to publish sensitive company information online (known as double-extortion).
“Businesses involved with the logistics of the Qatar World Cup should watch out for, and prepare for, cyber attacks in the coming months.”
FIFA has said that it has received three million requests for tickets to the World Cup final on 18 December, at the 80,000 capacity Lusail Stadium.
Tickets sales have been paused with FIFA promising an update in late September about when the last set of tickets will be sold.