Worry at World Cup hackers
WASHINGTON: The top US counter-intelligence official is advising Americans travelling to Russia for football’s World Cup beginning this week, that they should not take electronic devices because they are likely to be hacked by criminals or the Russian government.
William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned World Cup travellers that even if they think they are insignificant, hackers could still target them.
“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you – make no mistake – any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” he said.
“Corporate and government officials are most at risk.
“But don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted,” Evanina said.
“If you can do without the device, don’t take it.
“If you must take one, take a different device from your usual one and remove the battery when not in use.”
Evanina’s warning comes as US intelligence, law enforcement and congressional officials are still investigating Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election and whether anyone with Trump’s campaign was aware of or aided it.
Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion and Russia has said it did not meddle in the US election.
Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said British security agencies have issued similar warnings to the British public and the England football team, which is competing for the World Cup.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said it was “providing expert cyber security advice to the (UK) Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.”
The NCSC, a branch of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s electronic eavesdropping agency, also issued a warning to the public.
Private cyber security expert Patrick Wardle said the official warnings constituted “really good advice”.
“When I travel to Russia, I bring ‘burner’ devices.
“So if they get hacked, it doesn’t really matter,” he added.
A burner device is typically bought for temporary use, then thrown away.
US agencies have issued similar warnings before other major international sporting events, including the recent Winter Olympics in Seoul. – Reuters DOMODEDOVO: As World Cup squads and their fans fly into Russia for the start of the tournament today, so do police officers from all the competing nations to help deter hooliganism and the threat of any militant attack.
The country has deployed thousands of police to the 11 host cities to deal with an influx of potentially rowdy soccer fans as well as other security threats.
But they won’t be alone. Regardless of any political differences with Moscow, the 32 participating countries have sent officers to help Russian police spot troublemakers and prevent fans from having runins with the local authorities.
Housed in an Interior Ministry training facility outside the capital, the police co-operation centre bringing them together was inaugurated on Tuesday and hailed by its head, Colonel Roman Azyavin, as “a single family of international police forces”.
Some of the countries competing have poor relations with Russia, strained by sanctions and issues ranging from the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain to the conflict in Syria. But there is no place for grievances in the mission.
“We take politics out of policing,” said Chief Inspector Joseph Stokoe of London’s Metropolitan Police.
“We’re here to ensure a safe and secure World Cup.”
Russian authorities, hoping to expunge memories of the brawls involving the country’s fans in Marseille at the 2016 European championship, have pledged to curb violence.
England fans were also involved in those clashes and Stokoe said British police officers were patrolling airports and ensuring people banned from attending matches were surrendering their passports.
He said other British police officers on the streets would intervene to help stamp out any trouble.
In cities such as Volgograd, where England face Tunisia next week, exuberant behaviour in some places can be deemed insulting by the locals. Formerly known as Stalingrad, Volgograd was the site of the largest and bloodiest battle of World War II, with monuments and former battlefields dotting the cityscape.
“English fans aren’t stupid,” Stokoe said. “They’ll be aware of the central places and not central places where they can perhaps enjoy themselves in the bars, and not in the streets and the other iconic sites.”
But Stokoe said British officers would be ready to step in, if needed.
“If there is a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding, they can quickly get there and explain to them (England fans) that the Russian author- ities do not like this,” Stokoe said. “Change your behaviour, change your location.”
As well as measures being taken at home and in Russia by the competing nations, Moscow is also screening incoming fans with the help of fan IDs, a mandatory document to attend matches and proving its holder has been approved by Russian authorities.
With flags of all World Cup countries hanging on the walls, the co-operation centre serves as a communication hub for the foreign police forces.
Two officers from the competing countries will be based there to interact with those in the field while co-ordinating security efforts with Russian authorities in the same room.
“It’s a question for Russian police to do the things to defend Polish supporters from Russian hooligans,” Poland’s Captain Wojciech Dobrowolski said.
“But if we see Polish hooligans between other supporters, we will tell Russian police and I think they will do their best to stop any fights.” – Reuters
Law enforcement officers from Germany take part in the opening of the International Police Co-operation Centre ahead of the 2018 Fifa World Cup, which begins today, in Domodedovo near Moscow, Russia.