Russian Hackers Can Reportedly Take Over Unsecured Hotel WiFi

England players and staff have reportedly been told not to connect to Wi-Fi networks in hotels and public places at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The FA fears that doing so could expose the team’s plans and tactics to hackers, and is expected to provide its own internet access to staff.

Here's why the FA is right to take precautions.

How to improve your phone's battery life

How to improve your phone's battery life

  • 1/9 Limit notifications

    Notifications are incredibly useful, but they also drain battery life and not all of them are actually necessary. Switching off notifications for certain apps can help your phone’s stamina. On Android, head into Settings, hit Apps and select those you don’t need to be notified by. On iOS, go to Settings and then Notifications.

  • 2/9 Disable auto-sync

    Certain apps, such as email and social networks, constantly run in the background even when you’re not using them. This is so you see updated information and updates when you do open the apps, but the benefits can be offset by the amount of battery life auto-sync can eat up. On Android, you can turn off auto-sync by going to Settings, Accounts and hitting the menu button. On iOS, go to Settings, General and Background App Refresh. However, since auto-sync is genuinely useful, we’d recommend disabling it when you know you’re going to be running low on battery life, rather than switching it off all the time.

  • 3/9 Switch off location services

    GPS is a huge drain on your phone’s battery, as more and more apps use your location data to work out where you are, and shape your experience according to that information. Unless you’re using a Maps app, you can get by without it. To turn off GPS on Android, go to Settings and Location. On iOS, go to Settings, Privacy and Location Services.

  • 4/9 Lower brightness

    Your phone’s display is responsible for the biggest impact on your battery life, but it’s easy to limit how much energy it uses up. Auto-brightness is convenient, but often sets the screen brightness to a much higher level than it needs to be. Turning auto-brightness off, setting your display’s brightness to a lower level and adjusting it when you need to is much more sensible.

  • 5/9 Uninstall apps you don’t need

    Some apps drain more battery life than others, and it’s worth working out which ones you can do without. Facebook, for instance, is known to have a big impact on your phone’s battery, and you can eliminate this by deleting the app and using the social network in your web browser instead. On Android and iOS, you can see the apps and processes that are affecting your battery by going to Settings and Battery. From there, work out what you can delete or replace with a less-demanding alternative.

  • 6/9 Cut your assistant off

    Virtual assistants are becoming increasingly capable, and therefore increasingly important in tech companies’ eyes. Not all consumers share the enthusiasm of Google and Apple though, and rarely - if ever - use Google Assistant and Siri. Whether you use them or not, by default the two assistants are always listening out for their trigger words, and this uses up battery life. On Android, you can switch this off by going to Settings, Google, Search, Voice and “Ok Google” detection. On iOS, go to Settings, Siri and Allow “Hey Siri”.

  • 7/9 Stop vibrating

    Vibrate is a great middle-ground between a potentially disruptive ringtone and total, uncertain silence, but it also uses up the most battery life of the three options. You can go a step further by also disabling tap feedback, which can be reassuring, but is ultimately unnecessary.

  • 8/9 Turn off connections

    If you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, switch your mobile data off, and vice versa. Similarly, remember to turn off Bluetooth and NFC when you’re not using them.

  • 9/9 Airplane mode

    Airplane mode isn’t just for when you’re on an aeroplane. If you know you’re not going to have or won’t need signal or a Wi-Fi connection for a good amount of time, it’s worth enabling Airplane mode. Otherwise, your phone will use up battery life by pointlessly trying to connect to a network.

Cyber criminals are known to target public Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured, and can access people’s data and intercept communications without them realising. 

A report from earlier this year found that coffee shops are the most popular places to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, followed by airports and hotels.

Though these networks are convenient, their providers tend to have lax security standards.

“Devices connected to public or free Wi-Fi hotspots are easy targets for hackers because they don’t require authentication to establish a connection,” Raj Samani, chief scientist at McAfee, told the Independent.

“This means hackers can gain direct access to anything shared over the network, from images to bank account details to emails and messages. Yet more than half of Brits (55%) don’t know how to tell if the Wi-Fi connections they’re using are secure, demonstrating the extent of the issue and the open opportunity for hackers. 

“Just this week, damning images of Paul Hollywood were released and there are hundreds of other examples where private images or messages have got into the wrong hands and ruined the reputation of public figures. Added to this, footballers’ massive pay cheques make them a great target for cybercriminals wanting to make a quick buck. 

“Rightly so, the FA is on guard and eager to protect its players from the risks of a hack.”

Emails between the FA and Fifa were leaked by Russian hacking group Fancy Bears – which has also targeted WADA – last month. 

The team, which hasn’t yet qualified for the tournament but is expected to by beating Slovenia at Wembley on 5 October, is also being warned about social media use, with the FA worried about players accidentally revealing the location and details of the England training base by posting too much online.

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Huge hack likely to affect tens of millions who don't know about it

Mr Samani says they, and every other web user, should always be wary of potential threats online.

“In addition to avoiding public Wi-Fi spots, they should also be extremely careful about clicking on links and sharing their locations on social media,” he added. 

“Every move they (and we) make online leaves a digital footprint and clues for cybercriminals to use to their advantage.”

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