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SBD Global/September 13, 2017/International Football

FA Hires Computer Experts To Protect National Team From Cyber Spies

Computer experts have been hired to protect England national football team players and Manager Gareth Southgate's coaching team "from cyber spies at the World Cup in Russia," according to Martyn Ziegler of the LONDON TIMES. The FA is "taking action to prevent hackers" from spying on team tactics, player data and confidential medical information that may be on the organization's computers and portable devices. FA officials are "acutely aware of the threat of cyberattacks" and last month's leak by Fancy Bears. The group, which is believed to be Russian, appeared to have hacked FIFA's doping records including recent correspondence with the FA about four English players, which "further highlighted that sports teams are a likely target." England's players, coaches and FA staff will be warned not to use public or hotel Wi-Fi networks, "which offer hackers easy access to computer networks." Firewalls have been "strengthened" and passwords encrypted. Players will also be given advice about protecting their social media logins (LONDON TIMES, 9/12). In London, Martha Kelner reported it is believed Fancy Bears are "seeking revenge" after Russia was banned from competing in athletics at the Rio Olympics when "systemic doping in the country was exposed." They had already breached WADA's database, releasing "hundreds of private medical files of mainly European and American Olympians," including Bradley Wiggins and Mo Farah. The FA has been "alert to potential breaches of security at major tournaments in the past, notably in relation to physical spying." At Euro 2016 in France, the team's training base in Chantilly was guarded by nine feet of tarpaulin and the squad "rejected the opportunity to train at match venues the day before games" (GUARDIAN, 9/11). The BBC's Zoe Kleinman wrote many cyber attacks are believed to originate in Russia -- and "sensitive data about upcoming matches would certainly be valuable as it could then be used to place bets on various outcomes." Once a hacker has access to a Wi-Fi router, he or she "can snoop on any of the data being shared on other devices that are connected to it." He or she "can also install a digital backdoor to guarantee re-entry" should access be blocked. It would be "easy to spoof a free Wi-Fi hotspot" so that the user might think he or she was logging on via an official platform but what he or she would actually be doing is opening the "entire device to a scammer" (BBC, 9/11).

EXPERT ADVICE: In London, David Conn reported Europe's top football clubs "have received expert advice on stepping up their counter-terrorism and security operations" before the start of group matches this week in the Champions League and Europa League. Safety and security officials from all of Britain's competing clubs and FAs met their European counterparts last week in Munich at an annual stadium and security conference jointly organized by UEFA and the EU "to consider the latest strategies for preventing terrorist attacks." The EU-UEFA conference followed a briefing held by UEFA in June in Amsterdam at which clubs' security staff were advised to watch outside stadiums on non-matchdays as well as matchdays for potential terrorists planning attacks carrying out "hostile reconnaissance" (GUARDIAN, 9/12).
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