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Chess Champion Seeks Microsoft Protection From Russian Hackers

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Current world chess champion appoints Microsoft to bolster cyber defences ahead of showdown with Putin’s lacky

The Norwegian chess grandmaster, and the current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen has hired Microsoft to protect his computers ahead of a chess showdown with a Russian challenger.

Carlsen reportedly fears Russian hackers will use his match against Putin’s favourite player, Sergey Karjakin, at next week’s World Championship in New York to penetrate his computers and learn his secret moves.

Game Plans

Specifically, the 25 year old Carlsen is concerned that hackers could try and obtain his highly secret game plan for the match.

“The element of surprise is vitally important in chess,” Vibeke Hansen, from Microsoft Norway told The Telegraph.

“Therefore, it is critical that all communication during preparation and the finals is completely secure,” she said. “Preparing for a World Championship demands a lot of work, analysis and strategic sparring – and a lot of computing power.”

“The last few months before a match are filled with a lot of preparation and hard work; it is crucial that no data is lost or compromised,”  Hansen reportedly said.

She then went on to confirm that Microsoft Norway will “ensure that he has a safe training environment and secure communication and collaboration tools”.

And it should be remembered that Carlsen is not the only chess grandmaster to fear the Russian state.

Garry KasparovFormer champion Garry Kasparov (left) was born in Russia and is a well known opponent of President Vladimir Putin.

Kasparov warned last month that Putin was interfering with the 2016 presidential election in the United States.

“There’s no way that any Russian agency could afford to attack the United States without direct order from Vladimir Putin,” Kasparov told MSNBC. “Now, why he’s doing that, we should listen to Trump, because Trump flip-flops along with every issue, but he’s very consistent in defending Vladimir Putin.”

Russian Threat

Microsoft of course has a lot of experience at the moment with Russian hackers. Last week for example it blamed a Russian-linked hackers (a group known as Strontium) as being responsible for cyber attacks that exploit an unpatched Windows vulnerability.

That flaw was disclosed by Google after it gave Redmond just six days to patch it, much to Microsoft’s anger.

That came after US intelligence officials last month officially blamed this Russian hacker group, which it said was linked to “senior” Russian government. These hackers, according to the US, are responsible for recent politically motivated hacking incidents, including the release of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Last year Microsoft was part of cyber security mission to Poland and Romania as it sought ways to bolster the cyber defences of key allies against the growing cyber threat of Russia and others.

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