Monday, July 22, 2024

Hackers Created 700+ Fake Domains to Sell Olympic Games Tickets

As the world eagerly anticipates the Olympic Games Paris 2024, a cybersecurity threat has emerged, targeting fans and attendees.

Cybersecurity firm QuoIntelligence has uncovered a sophisticated fraudulent campaign involving over 700 fake domains designed to sell counterfeit tickets for the Olympics and other major events.

This article delves into the details of this alarming discovery, its implications, and the ongoing efforts to combat such cyber threats.

FInternal telemetries with mentions to the Olympics. Source: Mercury by QuoIntelligence.
Internal telemetries with mentions to the Olympics.

The Rise of Fake Domains

In December 2023, QuoIntelligence noticed a surge in online discussions about the upcoming Olympics, both on the surface web and in underground forums.

This prompted the firm to initiate an investigation, which led to the identification of multiple domains impersonating the official Olympic ticketing website.

Through detailed analysis, QuoIntelligence uncovered a broader network of 708 fraudulent domains, active since 2022, with activities intensifying throughout 2023 and continuing into 2024.

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Key Findings

QuoIntelligence’s investigation revealed several critical insights:

  • Target Audience: The campaign primarily targets Russian-speaking individuals and extends to English-speaking and Chinese-speaking users.
  • Scope of Fraud: The fraudulent ticket sales are not limited to the Olympics but also include other major events like UEFA EURO 2024 and various music festivals.
  • Financial and Reputational Impact: The campaign poses significant financial risks to individuals and event organizers, leading to potential losses and reputational damage.

High-Quality Fake Websites

The fraudulent websites, such as ticket-paris24[.]com, were meticulously crafted to resemble legitimate ticketing platforms.These sites allowed users to select events, choose seats, and even book accommodation in Paris.

Despite minor spelling and grammar errors, likely due to direct translations from Russian to English, the user experience was comparable to high-end legitimate sites.

Fake Ticketing Website
Fake Ticketing Website

Payment System Analysis

QuoIntelligence’s analysis revealed that the fraudulent websites used Stripe as their payment system. Interestingly, the attackers did not aim to steal credit card information but rather to approve transactions only if the victim had sufficient funds.

This approach ensured that the attackers could maximize their financial gains without raising immediate suspicion.

Tickets available to be purchased on ticket-paris24[.]org
Tickets available to be purchased on ticket-paris24[.]org

The investigation identified a consistent pattern in the domain and subdomain structures of the detected sites. Common subdomains included terms like “jswidget,” “widget-frame,” and “widget-api.”

By analyzing these patterns, QuoIntelligence mapped out the network of 708 domains, revealing a sophisticated and well-coordinated campaign.

Redirection to Stripe’s payment page
Redirection to Stripe’s payment page

Geopolitical Tensions

The Paris 2024 Olympics are set against a backdrop of significant geopolitical tensions, including the war in Ukraine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating under their national flags has further heightened diplomatic tensions.

This geopolitical landscape increases the likelihood of state-sponsored and hacktivist attacks targeting the Olympics.

The fraudulent campaign’s impact extends beyond financial losses. It erodes public trust in major events, potentially decreasing attendance and participation.

Event organizers and official ticket vendors face reputational damage, which can diminish consumer confidence in their services and reduce legitimate ticket sales.

Proactive Measures

To combat such threats, continuous monitoring and proactive measures are essential. QuoIntelligence’s investigation highlights the importance of gathering and profiling emerging threats and trends.

By staying ahead of cybercriminals, the cybersecurity community can develop effective defensive strategies.

Sharing this information helps other organizations and cybersecurity professionals detect and dismantle similar fraudulent networks.

The discovery of over 700 fake domains selling counterfeit Olympic tickets underscores the persistent and evolving nature of cyber threats. As major events like the Olympics attract global attention, they also become prime targets for cybercriminals.

Continuous vigilance, proactive measures, and collaboration within the cybersecurity community are crucial to safeguarding the integrity of such events and protecting individuals from falling victim to these sophisticated scams.

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Divya is a Senior Journalist at GBhackers covering Cyber Attacks, Threats, Breaches, Vulnerabilities and other happenings in the cyber world.

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