Bot Hackers Evolve during Euro 2020, Target Account Takeovers

A recent report released by Imperva, a cyber-security software and services company, is highlighting a surge in bot attacks targeting customer accounts during Euro 2020.

Unprecedented Level of Bot Attacks                             

The report from the provider of protection to enterprise data and application software shows traffic on sporting and gambling websites generated by bots increased dramatically before and during the European soccer championship, which recently crowned Italy as the European champion.

“This level of sustained bot activity is unprecedented for sports and gambling sites and indicates that bot operators are evolving their tactics.”

Edward Roberts, Director, Strategy, Application Security, Imperva

According to the report, bot activity on gambling websites increased by 96% year-on-year in the weeks before Euro 2020, with a 26% spike registered in April alone.

“Euro 2020 is the first major international tournament where, thanks to Covid-19, typical revenue sources such as ticket scalping have disappeared. As a result, bot operators have re-engineered their tactics to target the rest of us watching at home instead.”

Edward Roberts, Director, Strategy, Application Security, Imperva

Ticket scalping is a tactic that utilizes automated programs, scalper robots, to buy match tickets in bulk and then re-sell them with a premium. With the disappearance of their main source of income, bot hackers turned to account takeover attacks.

Targeting Customer E-Wallets

Designed to break into player accounts and obtain credentials or control of the bettor’s digital wallet, these types of bot attacks increased significantly in the week before England and Scotland began their championship campaigns, with days when England played identified as “particularly high risk.”

“With so many people loading up their accounts with hefty sums, gaining access is an easy money source for criminals, especially VIP customers who tend to stake huge wagers.”

Edward Roberts, Director, Strategy, Application Security, Imperva

When England played their games, the number of account takeover attacks doubled and even tripled compared to other playing days of the competition, Imperva stated in the report.

And the UK was not the only target for bot hackers, the cyber-security firm outlined, as it registered an increased traffic on German sporting websites, with a 41% spike in the week prior to the match with Portugal.

There was a distinct pattern of attacks getting larger as the championship progressed to the elimination phase, Imperva concluded, revealing a notable peak occurred on June 26 when the Round of 16 began.

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