Earlier today, the UK’s Anti-Doping Agency said it foiled a cyber-attack on its systems during the weekend after it was made aware of the threat by unknown sources. It added that hackers behind the operations were unable to access or steal any data stored in its systems.
“We took the necessary steps to investigate and resolve the situation. No core activity, including our testing programme, has been impacted.
“We are satisfied that we have appropriate levels of cyber security in place, and we continually review our systems and measures to ensure they are of a very high standard,” it added.
Russian hacker group suspected
While the agency did not reveal who could be behind the cyber attack, several sources told The Guardian that the cyber attack was perpetrated by Fancy Bears, a Russian hacker group which has carried out similar operations against the World Anti-doping Agency as well as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Back in January, researchers at security firm ThreatConnect revealed how Fancy Bears orchestrated a domain-spoofing campaign to spoof domains owned by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCASIA) in response to the ban imposed on Russia from participating in the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea.
Last year, Fancy Bears hacked into WADA’s servers and released documents that contained details of hundreds of athletes who failed dope tests in 2015 and 2016. The documents also contained details of 25 footballers who were allowed to use potentially performance-enhancing drugs during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The group claimed that these documents exposed WADA’s claims of football being completely free of doping.
The Russian hacker group is also known for hacking into the WADA database in 2016 and releasing details of medications used by US gymnast Simone Biles and tennis star Serena Williams. It is not clear if Fancy Bears has any link to the Russian hacker group APT28 or Fancy Bear which is known for conducting cyber attacks and influencing elections in the United States and in several European countries.
“Previous Fancy Bear dumps were almost always retaliatory and in response to sanctions from various international sports organizations. When the Russian athletic team was banned from participating in World Athletics Championships in London, embarrassing IAAF doping reports about major Western athletes were made public,” said threat intelligence firm Insikt Group.
“As international pressure on Russia intensifies, with open calls to strip Russia of World Cup in 2018 and recent the FIFA investigation into suspected prohibited substance abuse of the national soccer team, today’s release was almost guaranteed to surface,” the firm added.