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FA Ramps Up Cybersecurity Ahead of Russia 2018

The Football Association (FA) will look to boost cybersecurity training ahead of the World Cup in Russia next year amid fears that hackers could look to obtain key tactical information before games.

England will qualify for the tournament which begins next June if it beats Slovenia at home on October 5.

However, that will take the team to Russia, a prolific source of global cyber-attacks. There are fears that determined hackers may look to steal sensitive information on injuries, team selection and the like which could benefit opponents and be used by gambling syndicates.

As part of the plans, all FA computers and devices will have advanced cybersecurity software installed and players and staff have been told not to use public Wi-Fi or overshare on social media whilst in the country, according to the Guardian.

The fears are not unfounded, given that British sportsmen and women have been targeted in the past by likely state-sponsored hacking group Fancy Bears.

The group has leaked data from anti-doping agency WADA in the past, apparently in retaliation for the ban imposed on Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics.

It has since hacked and leaked information detailing anti-doping procedures in football, including a letter from the FA’s head of integrity, Jenni Kennedy, to FIFA about four anti-doping cases in May.

Football’s governing body claimed it is investigating the incident.

Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com, welcomed the move by the FA, and naturally argued that VPNs could be a good way to keep homesick players connected but secure while in Russia.

"Public Wi-Fi in places like hotels and cafés is so vulnerable that it doesn't even require a sophisticated hacker group like Fancy Bear to intercept personal data transmitted over the network. It's child's play to harvest sensitive data or infect a user with malware,” he warned.

"We know England World Cup campaigns are typically agonisingly short but we urge the management to plan for going all the way to Moscow.”

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