The FIFA World Cup, soccer/football’s quadrennial championship, kicked off this week in Russia, and literally billions around the world are watching. If you’re planning to actually attend one of the matches, be sure to leave behind your personal electronics.
This is the recommendation of both British and American government security services. They warn that the odds of your devices being hacked in Russia are very high.
William Evanina, the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told Reuters “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.”
“If you can do without the device, don’t take it. If you must take one, take a different device from your usual one and remove the battery when not in use,” suggested Evanina.
Android devices are easier to hack than iPhones and iPads, but it’s not impossible. And MacBooks aren’t anywhere near as secure. Really really ask yourself, is there any reason to expose yourself to identity theft in a country that’s known for hacking?
iPhone hacking on public Wi-Fi
A favorite source of cheap/free Internet access when on the road is public Wi-Fi. If traveling to Russia (or really anywhere) be very careful about the use of public Wi-Fi networks. These can be used to capture your data as it’s transmitted through the air.
Even worse, criminal organizations have been known to provide public Wi-Fi. As it’s their router providing the Internet connection, stealing your information is child’s play.
Everyone knows not to conduct financial transactions over an unsecured network, but remember that includes making payments.
Assume every network in Russia could be compromised. Your hotel probably isn’t run by cybercriminals, but their equipment may have been hacked without their knowledge.
If you ignore all of these suggestions, for goodness sake, at least password lock your iPhone. That will automatically encrypt everything on the device, making it nigh impossible to read without your passcode. Not doing so is tantamount to walking around Moscow with your credit card number written on your t-shirt.
Or maybe you should just stay home and let Siri tell you what’s happening with the World Cup. You can still spend all the travel money (and more) on a ridiculously expensive iPhone that celebrates your favorite player.