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A Russian sports official earlier this year estimated that as many as 2 million people would flock to the country during the World Cup, the month-long celebration of soccer—or football, fine—that kicks off today in Moscow. If you’re one of them, have fun! But also maybe leave your laptop at home.
Yes, traveling to and between Russia’s 11 World Cup host cities should provide marvels aplenty. But it’s important to remember that Russia, by and large, is a nightmare land of digital debauchery. If you’re a journalist, activist, politician, celebrity, or other high-profile figure, you’re at decent risk of being targeted by surveillance. And even if you’re just a fervent Finland fan, indiscriminate cybercrooks run rampant.
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That may sound like hyperbole, but it’s also official guidance from the top counterintelligence official in the United States. “Anyone traveling to Russia to attend the World Cup should be clear-eyed about the cyberrisks involved,” William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in a statement this week. “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 cybercriminals.”
A little perspective is healthy here. You won’t get hacked the minute you set foot in Moscow, as an NBC report prior to the Sochi Olympics in 2014 implied. But things do work, as they say, a little differently over there.
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“There’s a baseline level of untargeted cyberattack type stuff that happens in Russia, Ukraine, nearby places,” says Ryan Lackey, founder of ResetSecurity. “That ambient background level is fairly high, which also is cover for whenever there’s a targeted attack. So you’ve got an increased risk versus a lot of other locations.”
Fortunately, some common sense steps should help you navigate the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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