Worry at World Cup hack­ers

Daily News - - VIEWS & ANALYSIS -

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.”

Hack­ing

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

PIC­TURE: 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.

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