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Mobile Usage And Security Risks During UEFA 2016

Between 25 May and 24 June, 2016, the SmartWire Labs Team at Wandera underwent research into mobile security in Europe during the 2016 UEFA Euro tournament. With tourists from around the globe visiting France to partake in the wildly popular football event, Wandera found the perfect opportunity to evaluate and analyze mobile data patterns across a wide variety of European enterprise customers using our services.

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In our research period, we found some striking results that should serve as a wakeup call to sports fans, tourists, and enterprises alike.

Malicious websites and data leaks

More and more mobile users concentrated in one place means more opportunities for malicious websites, password mining, and illegitimate advertisements to attack unsecured devices. By analyzing billions of data inputs scanned by Wandera's secure mobile gateway, the SmartWire Labs Team discovered a significant amount of smartphones in France that had been targeted by hackers. 72% of French smartphones were targeted with malicious websites, and 41% of exposed passwords were also detected in France.

Phishing attacks

In early 2016, Russian banks were subject to a number of phishing attacks, in which Russian hackers managed to steal over $27 million from these banks. They first targeted clients before moving onto the banks themselves. We expected to see this threat to move onto other targets, particularly at the Euro 2016 tournament and the Olympics, but this was not the case—instead, we found that a staggering 73% of all phishing attacks occurred in Russia during this research period.

Data leaks from official UEFA Fan Guide app

Perhaps the most significant and eye-opening discovery in this research was the UEFA Euro 2016 Fan Guide app. One of the official UEFA mobile applications for the 2016 tournament, the app was available to tourists and fans travelling to France to experience the tournament. The app allowed fans to track their team's standings, check match schedules, and watch matches from their mobile devices.

Our research team discovered that user credentials (passwords, addresses, and phone numbers) were transferred to the UEFA website through insecure connections. The iOS and Android app—downloaded over 100,000 times and rated very highly on the Google Play store—was fundamentally insecure, with potentially thousands of peoples' information exposed.

Other data traffic trends during Euro 2016

In analyzing other data trends during the tournament, our team found a 38% increase in news and sports traffic, as well as a 67% increase in social network traffic. Online advertising traffic also nearly doubled in Portugal, Ireland, Turkey, and Spain.

We expected to see a steady growth in traffic to gambling websites and apps, though there was no major increase in Europe during this research period. This data also revealed the highest levels of online gambling in Europe, with the UK, Ireland, and Spain topping the list. These countries were followed by Germany, Sweden, Russia, and Italy, with almost a quarter of the traffic seen in Ireland and the UK.

Hungary, Ireland, and the Czech Republic were observed as the biggest users of sports and news websites, and it was discovered that Turkey was the most "social" country based on mobile data used for social media purposes. Amazingly, Turkey spent 30% more data on social media than Portugal, the second on the list.

Conclusions

Though an increase in mobile data usage is unsurprising during an international event like the 2016 Euro Tournament, the security risks associated with this increase have significant implications. As more people travel across Europe using unfamiliar apps and websites (usually in the form of Wi-Fi hotspots and free services), and with the revealed insecurities of an app like UEFA's fan guide, there is clearly a heightened risk of personally identifiable information being exploited and stolen.

Other sports associations that host major sporting events, such as the NFL and FIFA, should take note of these security risks to provide fans and tourists the most secure online experience possible during busy events like this.

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