Bears are back in service: hackers set their sights on the Olympics - Written are Given
Bears are back in service: hackers set their sights on the Olympics

Bears are back in service: hackers set their sights on the Olympics

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Microsoft warned of hacker attacks by the Fancy Bear group, which in the West is associated with Russia. The IT giant talked about cyber diversions against 16 sports and anti-doping organizations around the world, which suggests that the “Russian” hackers aimed at the 2020 Olympics.

Bears are back in service: hackers set their sights on the Olympics


The company Microsoft announced a series of hacker attacks by the group Fancy Bear (they also Strontium and APT28), which in the West is traditionally considered to be "pro-Kremlin". 

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It is reported that the attacks were directed against at least 16 national and international sports and anti-doping organizations. 

According to Microsoft, which helped some affected anti-malware agencies, cyber hacking began on September 16, 2019 - just a few days before the World Anti-Doping Agency ( WADA ) began the process of depriving the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) of its compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. 

However, most of the attacks were unsuccessful, but several were still successful. The IT giant associates sabotage with the Fancy Bear group since the attack scheme is very similar to the previous actions of these hackers. It is known that Fancy Bear previously committed attacks on sports organizations in 2014-2018.


Microsoft has pointed out the importance of this information in anticipation of the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, as hacker activity can be a preparation for major cyberattacks during sports. 


RUSADA Deputy General Director  Margarita Pakhnotskaya stated that the agency was not affected by hacker attacks.

“No serious cyber-attacks were recorded. But from time to time, as our information security specialist has reported, some attacks are carried out on our server. But everything is reliably protected, security systems are regularly updated. In general, we didn’t suffer in any way, ”RIA Novosti quoted Pakhnotskaya as saying.

The head of the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Travis Tygart said that his organization faced a hacker attack in early October, but not a single system was affected.

At the same time, Tygart added that attacks by Fancy Bear are becoming the "new norm".

As the director of the  Center for Strategic and International Studies, James Lewis told the WIRED portal, cyber-attacks of “Russian” hackers can have at least two goals. The first is to gain access to certain documents that can subsequently be merged into the public domain in order to cause trouble to sports organizations around the world. The second is classic espionage for goals like WADA to find out more about anti-doping tests or how to get around them successfully.

“For decades, Russians [athletes] have used doping to improve their athletic performance, and when WADA deprived them of this, they became furious. They never forgave WADA, and besides, they want to know what the agency knows. This is a great doping strategy if you know what the examiner will look for, ”said Lewis.

Note that the Kremlin has denied any connection with Fancy Bear. In February of this year, Microsoft accused the “Russian” hackers of attacks on European centres of political research. Then the press secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov called the company's statements unfounded.

“We don’t know what hackers are being talked about, we don’t know what the influence in the elections is. From America, we hear confirmation that there was no influence in the elections. Who exactly is it in question, what is the evidence, and on the basis of what conclusions are drawn here in this category, we do not understand. No such data. Accordingly, we relate to such statements, ” RIA Novosti quoted Peskov as saying.

“As before, we don’t understand on the basis of what the Fancy Bear is, what the Russian military intelligence has to do with, what these accusations are based on, they are quite serious, they cannot sound unfounded. We don’t see any more specifics, ”the spokesman of the head of state added.

It is known that on the eve of the Olympics in 2018, the hacker group was called in absentia one of the main problems of the sporting event.

Meanwhile, major attacks that could entail serious consequences were avoided.

The name Fancy Bear was invented in 2014 by the specialist of the American company CrowdStrike Dmitry Alperovich. The name “Fashion Bear” turned out to be the most spectacular and took root in the media space. The first traces of malware used by hackers from Fancy Bear dates back to 2004 but became famous after ten years - after hacking the mail of a number of Russian, Ukrainian, American and Baltic journalists.

Cyber ​​attacks of the group are classified as APT - advanced persistent threat.

As a rule, they focus on hacking a specific target and prepare an attack based on information collected for a long time.

Moreover, during an attack, various attack methods are simultaneously used - exploitation of hardware and software vulnerabilities, "social engineering", etc.

Fancy Bear is credited with a huge number of cyberattacks around the world, but at the same time, part of the expert information security community doubts that the same group of hackers is behind the incidents attributed to the “bears”. Moreover, there is doubt that the Fancy Bear exists at all.

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