The director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, told Reuters that travellers could be susceptible to hacking by the Russian government or criminals.
“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you - make no mistake - any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cyber criminals,” he said.
Warnings about compromised devices are proliferating in the runup to the football tournament, which will be hosted in a country whose government has been accused by other intelligence agencies of using state-sponsored hackers to interfere in elections (Russia denies those allegations).
Staff from the Government Communications Headquarters were scheduled to brief members of England’s national team on cybersecurity before they flew to St Petersburg, the Independent revealed this week.
The Football Association is expected to vet devices owned by players and staff to ensure they are secure.
Officials in Ukraine earlier this year warned that Russian cyberattackers were planning to target the Champions League final in Kiev.
As Ukrainian authorities were raising alarms about a potential “act of cyber-aggression by the Russian Federation”, Cisco Systems announced that its cybersecurity unit had discovered a malware attack that was aggressively infecting Ukrainian hosts.
American intelligence officials have concluded that the Kremlin directed a sweeping effort to influence the 2016 presidential election, including through the use of cyber operations.
An investigation into Russian interference led by special counsel Robert Mueller produced indictments against members of the Internet Research Agency, a so-called “troll farm” established in St Petersburg that a criminal complaint described as a weapon of “information warfare against the United States of America”.
A court filing this week from Mr Mueller’s team echoed intelligence warnings that Russia is targeting the 2018 election, warning of “uncharged individuals and entities that the government believes are continuing to engage in interference operations”.
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