US, UK Tell Soccer Fans to Beware of Phone Hackers at World Cup

Jun 15, 2018

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Footie fans at the World Cup in Russia should be taking measures to make sure their phones aren’t hacked by the Kremlin while they’re there, the US and UK governments said this week. And that warning goes for all Americans and Britons — even regular Joes who have no reason to think they’re being targeted by a foreign government, they said.

“Anyone traveling to Russia to attend the World Cup should be clear-eyed about the cyber-risks involved,” William Evanina, FBi agent and director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said on Wednesday. “Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted.”

The threat is so great that he even suggested Western tourists leave their electronic devices at home entirely, or use burner phones that they can discard after the games instead. He added that visitors should remove that batteries from their phones when they’re not using them.

“If you can do without the device, don’t take it,” he said.

The British government issued a warning to its citizens that Kremlin or criminal hackers could use the data they collect from mobile phones to pinpoint a tourist’s hotel and travel plans and steal his or her identity. The National Cyber Security Centre told Brits in Russia for the event to forgo online banking entirely. Hotel and free or public Wi-Fi are also to be avoided, the agency said.

Before they flew to Russia, the athletes on the UK’s World Cup teams were briefed on the threat and told to treat their hotel rooms as if they were constantly surveilled.

Featured image by Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images.

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