US warns of Rus­sian cyber threat

The Weekend Australian - - SPORT - REUTERS

A US-based cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm said it has found early in­di­ca­tions that Rus­sian hack­ers may be plan­ning at­tacks against anti-dop­ing agen­cies in re­tal­i­a­tion for Rus­sia’s ex­clu­sion from next month’s Win­ter Olympic Games.

Re­searchers from ThreatCon­nect Inc said that within the past month, un­known peo­ple had reg­is­tered three web do­mains that mimic those of the World An­ti­Dop­ing Agency, the US An­ti­Dop­ing Agency and the Olympic Coun­cil of Asia. The moves bore sim­i­lar­i­ties to the meth­ods that a Rus­sian hack­ing group known as Fancy Bear used in the past, the cy­ber­se­cu­rity firm said in a re­port.

Fancy Bear was blamed for an Olympics-re­lated hack in 2016, when the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency said the group was re­spon­si­ble for steal­ing and pub­lish­ing con­fi­den­tial med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion about Olympic ath­letes.

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) and the Rus­sian em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

ThreatCon­nect said there was no ev­i­dence that hack­ers had used the web do­mains ma­li­ciously, but that the do­mains could pro­vide the build­ing blocks for fu­ture at­tacks.

Do­mains that im­i­tate le­git­i­mate web­sites are a com­mon tac­tic em­ployed by hack­ers for var­i­ous types of at­tacks, such as gain­ing ac­cess to email ac­counts. The imi­ta­tion do­mains “raise the ques­tion of a broader cam­paign against the up­com­ing 2018 Win­ter Games,” ThreatCon­nect said.

The Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, are ex­pected to draw world­wide at­ten­tion, mak­ing the event a po­ten­tially valu­able tar­get for hack­ers amid a po­lit­i­cal­ly­charged at­mos­phere.

The IOC last month banned the Rus­sian na­tional team from the Win­ter Games for what it called “un­prece­dented sys­tem­atic ma­nip­u­la­tion” of the anti-dop­ing sys­tem, al­though it al­lowed Rus­sian ath­letes with a clean his­tory of to com­pete un­der a neu­tral flag.

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