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World Cup 2018: England Players To Avoid Public Wi-Fi As FA Seeks FIFA Cybersecurity Assurance

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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FA fears Fancy Bears or other hackers could steal sensitive data and has written to FIFA

The Football Association (FA) has written to FIFA for assurances about cybersecurity protection at next summer’s World Cup in Russia amid concerns that hackers could target the England players and staff, who will also be warned not to use public Wi-Fi networks in the country. 

England have not yet qualified for the World Cup in 2018, but are in pole position to do so and attention is now turning to bases for next summer’s tournament. 

And once the team is there, there are fears that groups, such as Fancy Bears, might use insecure Wi-Fi hotspots to steal information about player injuries, tactics and team selection.  

St Georges Park 11

Russia World Cup cybersecurity 

Players will reportedly be told to stay away from Wi-Fi networks in hotels, cafes and airports and will also be reminded not to share material on social media that could also give away information. The FA has also boosted its firewall and security software. 

FIFA, the world’s governing body, confirmed to Silicon it had received a letter. 

“We can confirm that The FA has sent a letter to FIFA related to the Fancy Bears attack,” said a spokesperson. “In its reply FIFA has informed The FA in such context that FIFA remains committed to preventing security attacks in general and that with respect to the Fancy Bears attack in particular it is presently investigating the incident to ascertain whether FIFA’s infrastructure was compromised. Such investigation is still ongoing.  
 
“For the purposes of computer security in general, FIFA is itself relying on expert advice from third parties. It is for this reason that FIFA cannot and does not provide any computer security advice to third parties.” 

The FA declined to comment. 

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Fancy Bears is a Russian hacking collective believed to have carried out attacks on both the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). An email between the FA and FIFA regarding anti-doping cases was disclosed as part of these hacks. 

The FA has been using technology heavily in its bid to turn England into World Cup contenders. The National Football Centre at St George’s Park is equipped with Campus-wide Wi-Fi, which means that FA staff can get onto the FA network and access services such as video analysis and video development, 

Pitch side wireless points mean that coaches can use it will holding training sessions. This is then stored online and can be viewed in the dressing room or later on a computer or tablet. 

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