World Cup spam disrupts workers as tournament heats up

IT security firm Sophos has reported that computer users around the world are being disrupted by spam campaigns related to the World Cup as the international football tournament draws closer to its conclusion. World Cup-related spam seen by Sophos includes notifications of bogus FIFA-sponsored lottery wins, deals to get cheaper phone calls until the end of the tournament, and offers of tickets to the matches in Germany.

In one of the latest examples seen by Sophos, spammers claim that if recipients tell them who they think will win the World Cup they will receive a free 500 US dollar Visa Gift Card. However, clicking anywhere on the email actually results in the user’s internet browser being taken to a website promoting plasma TV sets to watch the football matches.

“Users will feel as sick as a parrot when they realise they are unlikely to ever receive a prize, and have confirmed that their email address is active to the people who fill up their inboxes with junk every day,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos. “Yet spam isn’t the only major employee distraction at the moment – World Cup live streaming and software downloading is certain to be rife for those organisations who let their employees get away with it.”

To determine the controls put in place for World Cup-related computer usage at work, in a recent Sophos web poll, IT professionals were asked what actions they would take. 44 percent of all respondents revealed that they won’t control it at all, compared with just 15 percent who said they would prevent live streaming, eleven percent who would block all related applications, nine percent who would track software downloading and 20 percent who would use a combination of methods to control this kind of computer usage.

“Allowing users to more or less do as they please online seriously exposes their computers and the network to infectious attack, so it’s astonishing that so many organisations aren’t doing more to control this kind of PC usage,” continued Cluley. “Every organisation needs an IT security policy in place, as well as someone tasked with enforcing it.”

Sophos experts also recently reported on the malicious Sixem email worm, which infected Windows computers using the ruse that the attached file contained pictures of naked football fans.

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