According to Kaspersky Lab research, 7,176 of approximately 32,000 public Wi-Fi networks in FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities do not use traffic encryption. This makes them potentially unsafe for use by football fans visiting the cities. The results suggest that fans should take care of their personal data, especially while using open Wi-Fi connections around the FIFA World Cup games.
Global events always result in a concentration of people connecting to networks to upload posts, stay in touch with loved ones, and share the fun with others. However, at the same time, these networks can be used to transfer financial and other valuable information across the Internet. And it’s this information that third parties - not necessarily criminals - can intercept and use for their own purposes.
Kaspersky Lab’s findings are based on an analysis of public Wi-Fi spots in 11 FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities, including Saransk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Sochi, Rostov, Kaliningrad, and Saint Petersburg. The results show that so far not all wireless access points have encryption and authentication algorithms – aspects that are essential for Wi-Fi networks to remain secure. This means that hackers only need to be located near an access point to intercept network traffic and get confidential information from unwitting or unprepared users.
The three cities with the highest percentage of unreliable Wi-Fi networks are Saint Petersburg (37%), Kaliningrad (35%), and Rostov (32%). In contrast, the safest places were relatively small towns - including Saransk (only 10% of Wi-Fi spots are open), and Samara (17% of Wi-Fi spots are open). Almost two-thirds of all public Wi-Fi networks in these locations use the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) protocol family for traffic encryption, a protocol which is considered to be one of the most secure for Wi-Fi use.
Encryption type used in public Wi-Fi hotspots in FIFA World Cup host cities
Still, it should be noted that even reliable WPA/WPA2 networks can allow brute-force and dictionary attacks, as well as key reinstallation attacks, meaning they are not absolutely secure.
“The lack of traffic encryption, coupled with large-scale events – like the FIFA World Cup - make wireless Wi-Fi networks a target for criminals who want easy access to user data. Despite about two-thirds of all access points in FIFA World Cup host cities using encryption based on the most secure Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) protocol family, even these access points can’t be considered secure if the password is visible to everyone.Our research shows, once again, that cybersecurity involves addressing not just certain aspects, but the entire infrastructure. FIFA World Cup 2018 has confirmed that the event itself is secure - but users should be aware that clearly its host cities’ public Wi-Fi hotspots are often not,” said Denis Legezo, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
If you are going to visit FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities and use open Wi-Fi networks while there, remember to follow several simple rules to help protect your personal data:
To learn more about Wi-Fi network situation in FIFA World Cup host cities, read our blogpost on Securelist.com.