In Brief

England players given World Cup ‘hacking’ warning

FA fears theft of squad selection data and tactical information

England footballers and staff have been warned not to use public Wi-Fi networks in Russia for fears of hacking and cybercrime during the 2018 World Cup finals. 

Following a number of recent football hacking incidents, the English Football Association is said to be concerned about IT security in Russia, says the BBC

The theft of confidential information and data relating to tactics and squad selection has prompted the FA to boost its cybercrime countermeasures, and players have also been reminded of guidelines for using social media.

Just last month football was hit by a hacking scandal when information released by the Russian group Fancy Bears revealed that 150 footballers were caught doping in 2015 and that 25 players were given exemptions by Fifa to take banned medicines during the 2010 World Cup. 

Following the Fancy Bears hack, reports SportsNet, FA officials wrote to Fifa citing its concerns. 

Fifa confirmed it had received a letter from the English FA.

A statement by the association said: “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.”

Social media - including Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s official Twitter accounts - has also been the target of hackers. Real Madrid were left red-faced by a fake Twitter post welcoming Barcelona player Lionel Messi to the club, while Barca’s hijacked account announced the signing of Angel Di Maria from Paris Saint-Germain.

With these incidents in mind, the English FA has started its digital and IT planning months before next summer’s finals.

Gareth Southgate’s side need just two more points to automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Three Lions play Slovenia and Lithuania in their final two qualifying matches.

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