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Missing goals: Why online broadcasts can be vulnerable to cyberattacks

Reputation and reliability are key to being able to survive in this business because there are so many other options if the quality of service starts degrading.

Disney+ started streaming in Hong Kong. — © AFP Charly TRIBALLEAU
Disney+ started streaming in Hong Kong. — © AFP Charly TRIBALLEAU

The FuboTV attack during last week’s World Cup semi-final was another example of why celebrations as well as the holiday season is a peak time for cybercriminals. Organisations and consumers need to use this as a wake-up call to remember that even in times of celebration and holiday, security cannot go ignored.

On December 14, 2022, the day of the Qatar 2022 semi-final match between France and Morocco, many FuboTV customers experienced issues accessing their accounts. The incident was not related to any bandwidth constraints, instead the company was the target of a criminal cyber-attack.

Looking into the attack and the ramifications for Digital Journal is Nabil Hannan, Managing Director at NetSPI.

Hannan begins by considering the weaknesses around digital communication: “With homes having access to faster Internet speeds and the simplicity of using app-based streaming services, most households have started switching to paid tv subscriptions such as Hulu, YouTube TV, FuboTV, etc. They are convenient and easy to use – especially nowadays when people have multiple devices that they use and can access this service on the go.”

This makes these services vulnerable and they become more attractive to cybercriminals due to an expanding user base. Hannan finds: “With this trend, people pay for these services with the expectation that the service will be working and available, especially during popular events such as the World Cup. Reputation and reliability are key to being able to survive in this business because there are so many other options if the quality of service starts degrading. Knowing this, we see attackers often use times when the demands on the services are high to try and execute attacks.”

Cloud systems in particular can present keyholes for criminals. Hannan  says: “These services also often pay for bandwidth and processing power (cloud computing in most cases) to service their customers. If attackers can identify vulnerabilities that can impact the availability of service, this will have a negative impact on the end users of the service.”

In terms of the recent cyber-incident, Hannan explains: “Attacks such as distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are commonly used to disrupt such services. Even though in the case of FuboTV, there may not be many details provided on what weakness specifically allowed attackers to breach their systems, just like any other service provider, building security in and adding defense in depth techniques when deploying systems, is table stakes for businesses today to be more resilient to cyber-attacks.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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