GCHQ helps England team avoid Russian hackers at World Cup

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will brief the England national football team to help them stay safe from Russian hackers during the World Cup.

The cybersecurity organisation will be speaking to players at the St George's Park training centre before the squad flies out St Petersburg on 12 June and will also advise the Football Association (FA) on keeping its own security systems as robust as possible in the event of a Russian cyber attack.

The players will be advised on rules to follow when it comes to which devices they can safely use and where, while the FA will thoroughly screen all players and staff devices to make sure they have the appropriate software installed to keep them secure.

"The NCSC is providing expert cybersecurity advice to the Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup," an NCSC spokesperson said.

"A recent NCSC blog highlighted advice for fans using devices while abroad, which should be read alongside existing FCO Travel Advice and guidance offered on the Be on the Ball: World Cup 2018 website."

The NCSC provides insight and advice to individuals and organisations of all sizes on cyber security best practice. It has has already issued advice to England fans travelling to Russia, telling them to take as few devices as possible, never to download unofficial apps and to avoid public and hotel Wi-Fi connections where possible.

Russian cyber crime directed at sporting events has become a big concern in recent months with Kaspersky detecting a spike in match ticket phishing by Russian impersonators and Ukrainian state security also accusing Russia of planning a large-scale cyber attack on the Champions League Final in Kiev.

In light of these incidents, the FA is taking cyber security seriously as technology will play a big part in the England team's downtime throughout the tournament as every player is due to take multiple devices like smartphones, tablets and gaming devices.

The England manager, Gareth Southgate, recently joked about the number of video games played by the members in his squad.

"In terms of how they occupy their time in the hotel, a lot of them are young kids, it will be Fortnite' or whatever it is," Southgate said.

Picture: Shutterstock

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.