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England players urged not to use public Wi-Fi at Russia 2018 due to fears tactics will be hacked

Fifa are aware of The FA’s concerns, but insist they cannot offer computer advice.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

ENGLAND PLAYERS AND staff have been advised not to use public or hotel Wi-Fi should they qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia.

The BBC reports that the FA are concerned confidential information regarding tactics, injury, and squad selection could be hacked and exposed should members of England’s prospective World Cup party make use of a public connection.

Worries over data theft have increased following last month’s Fancy Bears hack in relation to the use of banned substances in football.

The cyber group claimed in the information released that 160 players had failed drugs tests in 2015, with the number rising to 200 last year.

The FA has sent a letter to Fifa regarding the issue of IT security, to which the world governing body responded: “Fifa has informed the FA that [it] 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.

Zoe Kleinman, technology reporter with the BBC, outlined why England will need to take extra precautions in Russia, from where many cyber attacks are believed to originate:

“Once a hacker has access to a Wi-Fi router they can snoop on any of the data being shared on other devices that are connected to it. They can also install a digital backdoor to guarantee re-entry should their access be blocked.

It would also be easy to spoof a free Wi-Fi hotspot, so that the user might think they were logging on via an official platform but what they would actually be doing is opening up their entire device to a scammer.

“Messaging apps such as Whatsapp and Signal use end-to-end encryption, which means messages cannot be read if they are intercepted – the players will no doubt be encouraged to communicate using the most secure possible platforms.”

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