Top 4 Tips for a Safe World Cup Online Viewing Experience

Brazil vs Ghana

With this year’s South African World Cup the great majority of weekday matches will be played in working hours. Coupled with the fact that many pundits are predicting the U.S. making it to the second round and beyond you are likely to want to watch many of the matches (with your bosses consent or otherwise) than ever before.

However, this insatiable desire to watch the World Cup matches at work has the potential to be the biggest security catastrophe ever seen, with malware writers targeting eager employees who will disregard common sense and employ any means necessary to get their soccer fix during office hours.

For example, during the 2008 Olympic Games, many U.S. Internet users went in search of footage of Usain Bolt’s 200-meter race from other sites in the UK, China and Eastern Europe due to a lag of several hours between the race taking place and U.S. broadcaster NBC showing it on television and placing it on its Web site. In a similar vein, soccer fans heading to largely unknown and untrusted websites in search of soccer from not being broadcast by domestic broadcasters such as BBC or ITV feeds risk exposing work-based computers to increased virus threat, phishing attacks and malware embedded in web pages, banner advertising and fake video streaming codec downloads.

So what, in particular, should you be watching out for to ensure your safety during what promises to be the most exciting World Cup tournament ever:

  1. Infection files distributed via World Cup spam. As in any prominent event, email users should be cautious when opening messages with attachments claiming to be related to the World Cup. In all probability, the attachment will be an infection file that could do serious damage to your PC or network. Typical themes we expect to see in these spam messages would be “Free tickets”, “match list”, “watch online” and “tickets refund” ? all of which are designed to lure the victim into opening up the attachment.
  2. Search Engine Optimization poisoning. Search engine results will probably be poisoned to include links to malicious sites which peddle rogue security products, online pharmacy scams or malicious files. Users should READ URLs before they click on them, and consider obtaining their news only from sources they trust during this period – the fake websites and spamblogs will be out in full force. Fake antispyware programs ? which claim your PC is infected and ask for anything up to $60 to remove those fictitious files ? are big business for hackers, and are one of the most common scam tactics online today. Anything from a rogue advert on a reputable website to a fake video claiming to show “match highlights” can be a gateway for these particular intruders. If you see popups mentioning infections while browsing the net that aren’t from your security software, don’t panic, simply open up Task Manager (CTRL+ALT+DEL) and shut down your web browser. If nothing malicious has been installed and what you’re seeing is a simple pop up, then this will allow you to “escape” the website that traps you on their page. Don’t give them any money!
  3. Social Networking Scams. We would expect to see malicious links on Twitter, fake applications on Facebook and other kinds of dubious behaviour on the more popular 2.0 websites. If someone asks you to try out a program on Facebook, don’t be afraid to Google it first and see if it’s a legitimate application or not. There are still many issues in relation to security where 2.0 applications are concerned and fake programs are a part and parcel of the hacker armoury.
  4. Website defacements. It’s a sad fact that when a big event takes place, websites related to the event are under threat of attack. While many of these attacks are simple webpage defacements, sometimes attackers may try to use the compromised websites to install malicious software onto your PC. Always ensure your security software is up to date and your version of Windows is fully patched, as there is a wealth of programs available that would-be hijackers can use to infect PCs with ease.

Simply follow these basic rules and you should be ensured of enjoying the fun and excitement of this year’s World Cup without scoring a security own goal.

Editor’s note: Christopher Boyd is a senior threat researcher for Sunbelt Software.

20 thoughts on “Top 4 Tips for a Safe World Cup Online Viewing Experience”

    1. J, I was wrong and you’re right. All 54 matches that are being shown on ESPN and ESPN2 will also be available on But the 10 matches that are being shown on ABC will not be available on

      The Gaffer

    1. It is all based on your cable/internet provider. It is similar to any other channel you normally get on TV. There are a few companies that still don’t provide it for their subscribers.

      1. Plus in some workplaces the site may be blocked. And because the work may have a different ISP than the one you use at home, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to watch from your office.

        The Gaffer

      2. Most cable companies do not provide access to ESPN 3 for their internet subscribers. Only alternative I’m aware of right now is Univision who will be streaming the games for free on their website (with Spanish commentary). No idea what the quality will be like but will be better than nothing for those of us without access to ESPN 3.

    2. No TimeWarner subscribers have access to ESPN3. It is a deal that has to be cut between individual ISPs and ESPN. So far TW and ESPN have not been able to come to an agreement.

      1. ovalball–do you think TW even wants an agreement? I can’t see TW, comcast, or any of the big cable company lot ever wanting anything to do with ESPN3 since people would drop their overpriced cable packages if they could get access to it. That’s why Comcast is trying to buy Hulu and make it a pay site. We really need another player in high speed space so let’s hope Fios, Uverse, and companies like Clearwire can bring in some much needed competition and roll out a little quicker. Right now my only choices are TW, AT&T (they have ESPN3 but only offer a 1.5m speed and I just can’t stomach it), and Clearwire (1.5m speed as well and no ESPN3). As of now looks like I’m stuck rolling the dice with Univision (thank goodness I know Spanish) and will enjoy every minute of the few games ABC airs in glorious free over-the-air high def.

  1. I am lucky to work in New York City and there are many expats and soccer hungry people at my company. Last word cup we had World cup Lunch in our huge conference space on 15 foot projection with plenty of 50 inch plasma filling in. What a turn out…

    I still remember explaining to a co worker why they called him Fat Frank… and then the off side rule, then….

      1. maybe… I should have explained that our main reason in doing this was that working in New York its easy to cut out and hit up a pub to watch a match… and even more so now a days with blackberry/ iPhone nobody would even know you where gone unless you miss a meeting. So in keeping people in house you have them in the office, and able to get back to the desk if needed. At the pub, well… the phone may be turned off, plus yeah know there is the drinking…

        1. yes three cheers for technology. I’m fortunate enough to be supporting European operations for my company so I actually work a 6-3 day which is perfect for matches during the week. and being able to work from home with all this wonderful technology helps too.

  2. One more tip: If you can (many factors here, like the workplace setting it up this way), do not use your computer with administrator rights. Run as a normal user and you reduce your exposure to exploits by over 90%

  3. Does anyone know for sure if it is possible to view the world cup games later in the evening on ESPN 3? Like most people, I will have to work at least some of the days of the broadcasts, and will not be able to watch every game live.

    1. Chris R, here’s the news directly from ESPN courtesy of EPL Talk: will archive all matches through duration of the tournament (ABC matches, not simulcast on, will go up at about 2 AM overnight). ESPN Classic will re-air all WC matches each night. ESPN2 will also feature lots of re-airs.

      The Gaffer

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