Hackers have joined protests against the football World Cup to be held in Brazil by threatening to attack the event through jamming websites and data theft.
Millions of ordinary Brazilians have already voiced their protest against the country’s government spending some 33bn reais (£8.4bn) on the event instead of on public services, transparency and the fight against corruption.
Now Reuters has revealed the country’s prominent cyber-attackers were already scheming how to disrupt the event, starting on 12 June.
"We are already making plans," said an alleged hacker who goes by the nom de guerre of Eduarda Dioratto. "I don't think there is much they can do to stop us."
Reuters contacted Dioratto and other self-proclaimed members of the international hacker network known as the Anonymous by finding them online. Though unable to confirm their true identities, Reuters spoke with them in the interest of understanding their threats and what impact they might have on the World Cup.
Websites of FIFA, the Brazilian government and the event’s corporate sponsors are among the most likely targets of the attack.
"The attacks will be directed against official websites and those of companies sponsoring the Cup," a hacker known as Che Commodore said.
While Brazil has been investing heavily to complete sports facilities and infrastructure needed for the World Cup, the country’s frail telecommunications networks have received little attention.
Apart from network overload, a widespread use of stolen software and little investment into online security, Brazil is also home to one of the world's most sophisticated cyber-criminal communities. The Brazilian hackers already managed to disrupt sales of the World Cup tickets.
"It's not a question of whether the Cup will be targeted, but when," said William Beer, a cyber-security expert with the consultancy firm Alvarez & Marsal. "So resilience and response become extremely important."
Brazilian officials say they are prepared to face the threat.
"It would be reckless for any nation to say it's 100 per cent prepared for a threat," said General José Carlos dos Santos, the head of the cyber command for Brazil's army. "But Brazil is prepared to respond to the most likely cyber threats."
A FIFA spokesperson declined to comment on online security.
The Anonymous, the hacking group involved, made themselves noticed internationally by their attacks against the US Central Intelligence Agency, Sony and even the Vatican.
In 2012, they managed to disable websites of Brazil’s prominent banks, using the denial of service strategy.
Though some have expressed concerns the Anonymous could attempt to hack Brazil’s national infrastructure including power grids, communication network and air traffic control services, the group said it didn’t aim to do anything that would harm Brazilian people.