Wednesday
July 23, 2014

World Cup

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fans should avoid unauthorized sites

A screen shot taken from the Watch ESPN mobile app shows action.
By Andrea Peterson
The Washington Post
High-demand events generate this kind of online cyber-leeching

It’s no secret that cord-cutters around the world are looking for ways to watch the World Cup online. But cybersecurity companies say some sites that claim to offer online streams of the games may be bad for your computer and your pocketbook.

In a blog post published on Thursday, Dmitry Bestuzhev from the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab says the company has identified a number of potential threats associated with sites claiming to offer live streams.

Some websites the company has uncovered promise high-quality streams for a cost but don’t deliver, he writes. Others ask viewers to install plugins to watch the games but instead install software that can drain computers’ processing powers.

Such programs sometimes aren’t outright illegal but exist in a sort of gray area, Bestuzhev said. “Often, [these] programs do not have any uninstall procedures and use technologies which border on virus technology to help the program stealthily penetrate the computer and run unnoticed,” he said in an email.

To avoid these risks, Kaspersky recommends using only authorized streams to keep up with the games — such as the video offered by Univision or the audio stream provided by ESPN radio.

But some fans, in their desperation to get around paying for cable, may still take their chances. In a recent informal online poll conducted by The Post that yielded more than 1,700 responses, one in five said they watch live sports on “some shady website.”

Besides schemes associated with sketchy live-stream sites, other companies have identified cybercriminals targeting soccer fans through phishing attacks offering free tickets to World Cup games.

Bestuzhev said that the type of malicious software his company sees on sites aimed at World Cup viewers is “fairly common” on other shady sites that claim to offer streaming video.

Scott Montgomery, a vice president at cybersecurity company McAfee, says it’s not a surprise to see hackers try to take advantage of the global interest in the World Cup by registering official-sounding domains for the purpose of stealing credit cards or installing software on unsuspecting consumers’ computers.

“It is not just the World Cup — any really high demand event site (World Cup, NCAA Final Four, Super Bowl, the UK royals wedding site, etc.) will generate this kind of cyber-leeching,” he said by email.

@andreaapetersen
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