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How not to get hit by World Cup criminals

The World Cup dominates the airwaves, sells newspapers and, yes, takes a lot of internet bandwidth. I'm not a football fan (heresy, I know) but I understand the attraction.

What I also understand is that anything that human beings obsess about is fodder for online criminals, and it's no different for football.


It's almost a tradition. In 1998, there was a World Cup virus that erased people's hard disks. In 2002 an email virus purported to display the latest results, but clicking on the file infected computers and turned them into virus incubators that attacked other people's machines.

This year there has already been a virus that offers tickets to the games but actually delivers a nasty virus. Another attack involved a virus-infested spreadsheet that supposedly tracks teams' progress. Opening the spreadsheet created a back door through which hackers and criminals could gain access to your computer.

World Cup at work

When the football crosses into the world of work there are some other potential problems. For example, watching World Cup videos online could sap your company bandwidth while watching the game on a PC might waste your employee's time.

More significantly, ACAS warns that giving some staff time off to watch the football but not giving non-footie fans the same benefit could cause problems, especially if there's a gender bias in who takes the time and who has to cover for the absence. Then there is the vexed question of the sickie the morning after the night before.

Protect yourselves

Personally, I've stocked up DVDs and made a long, long list of improvements I want to make to my blog. I'm coming out, like the dazed survivor of a war, once it's all over.

My advice to everyone else is:

Be especially wary of football-related emails, websites and scams.

As ever, don't click on an attachment that might be dodgy.

Make sure your anti-virus and firewall software is kept up to date.

You should also download and install Microsoft Windows Defender to protect yourself against spyware.

Use trusted websites to get football results and information.

With tickets in short supply, be extra-cautious when buying them online or through other unofficial channels.

Be flexible with staff if you can, but remember your obligations to all your staff and remind staff about any relevant policies such as those relating to internet use, alcohol abuse and sickness.

What next?

Ensure you know when every game is on by downloading our (virus-free!) World Cup calendar for Outlook.

You can get free security training with Microsoft Small Business+ right now. (Free registration required).

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