England’s staff and players will be forewarned against using public or hotel Wi-Fi ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
BBC Sport has revealed that the Three Lions’ senior set up will be told not to use wireless connections in Russia, ahead of their inevitable participation in the competition next summer, over fears of hackers potentially leaking intercepted data and news from the England camp.
The Football Association is concerned that other sporting leaks, such as those published by hacking group Fancy Bears, could lead to England’s team being the next victim of a possible attack.
They believe that sensitive information, such as tactical plans, injury news and team selections, could be compromised if hacking groups are able to break into their secure connections, via the players’ and staffs’ phones, tablets and computers.
The FA are thought to have begun putting their plan of action into place so every member of England’s travelling contingent is aware of their responsibilities, and they will urge caution when England’s stars use their social media accounts out in Russia in just under a year’s time.
Fancy Bears leaked documents last month showing that 160 footballers across the globe failed drugs tests back in 2015, while 25 players – including Carlos Tevez, Dirk Kuyt and Gabriel Heinze – were named as stars cleared of using banned medicines at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The FA wrote to football’s world governing body Fifa in the wake of that data theft amid concerns over their IT security, with Fifa giving assurances that the best possible measures will be put in place to prevent such leaks occurring next June and July.
A spokesman said back in August: “Fifa has informed the FA that [it] remains committed to preventing security attacks in general and that, with respect to the Fancy Bears attack in particular, it is presently investigating the incident to ascertain whether Fifa’s infrastructure was compromised.
“Such investigation is still ongoing. For the purposes of computer security in general, Fifa is itself relying on expert advice from third parties.
“It is for this reason that Fifa cannot and does not provide any computer security advice to third parties.”
England need just one victory from their remaining two qualifiers to book their place in Russia next summer.