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Sport Socceroos warned about danger of Russian hackers before World Cup

00:52  06 june  2018
00:52  06 june  2018 Source:   msn.com

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From the moment they formed camp, the Socceroos' players were briefed about their biggest threat at the World Cup in Russia.

It has the potential to derail the team's plans without Australia realising until they've already lost. That briefing wasn't an analysis on France's forward line. It did not involve Denmark's machine-like midfield and the pace and fluidity of Peru wasn't mentioned. Instead, the first presentation was on the threat of hacking in Russia.

Cyber security is singlehandedly the biggest security concern for the Socceroos at the World Cup held in a country described as "a haven for hackers".

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That compares to two cases the season before , and 10 the year before that. Heartbroken Socceroos fans have had their visas for the FIFA World Cup in rejected by the Russian Government without explanation, less than a fortnight out from the tournament.

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It is understood specialists have been consulted and are overseeing the Socceroos' cyber security throughout the duration of the tournament. Their measures hinge on protocols set by Australian, and UK federal agencies.

For security purposes, national team staff would not divulge specific details of their counter-measures when approached by Fairfax Media.

“Football Federation Australia has security measures in place – including cyber security – for every activity. We do not comment publicly about those arrangements," an FFA spokesman said.

It is understood that military-grade cyber security technology is being used throughout the entirety of the team's stay in Russia. So widespread is the threat that FFA staff and players were briefed to clear devices of any data and information they wouldn't be prepared to have public.

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If you wouldn't post it on facebook, don't have it on your device in Russia, they were told. They've advised players to never use public and hotel wi-fi and provided advice on connectivity with their video-game consoles.

Aside from technical safeguarding, they have advised players to remove from their phone emails, photos, messages that they wouldn't want to see splashed on tabloids. Staff members have been given "burners" - new phones and laptops to be discarded - to use for the duration of their stay in Russia to minimise the data hackers can obtain.

The rise of Russian hacking has been rapid in its prevalence and influence and professional sport has found itself exposed. The Socceroos' concern follows actions from hacking groups such as Fancy Bears, who targeted footballers and British athletes with accusations of doping.

The English FA now employs an in-house IT security team, sought a briefing from the UK National Cyber Security Centre and requested more assistance from FIFA to combat cyber crime.

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“We can confirm that the FA has sent a letter to FIFA related to the Fancy Bears attack,” a FIFA spokesman said in September.

Warned by incidents such as this, the FFA is taking no risks as the Socceroos enter the lions' den for the World Cup. The team will arrive at their training base in Kazan on Sunday preparing for hackers to attempt to break into their devices.

The Socceroos, like many others in the World Cup, fear they will be targeted by local opportunistic hackers. Primarily, the most common risk is malware while the rise of ransomware poses a new concern.

From a competitive perspective, their concerns relate to hacking groups accessing and leaking tactical, classified or medical informational that could be on sold to rivals for significant financial gain.

There is the potential disruption that could come with a player or staff members' private life being exposed online, or even exposing fitness dates or club transfers. There is the risk of national federations being held to ransom should hackers access private or financial data, and the simple benefit information provides for betting markets.

The Socceroos could also find themselves targets to state-sponsored hacking due to the current political tension between Australia's allies and Russia. As noted by the Republic of Estonia Information System Authority: "2016 saw a spike in overt cyber activity from Russia aimed at NATO members".

It is just another reason they have also taken major steps towards safeguarding their information in the coming weeks in Russia.

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