Yesterday, it was announced that Russia has been banned from competing in international sporting events for the next four years by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The ban, which includes being barred from the 2020 Olympics taking place in Tokyo and the 2022 World Cup in Quatar, comes after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Russia now has 21 days to respond to the ban.

WADA has concluded that laboratory data from doping tests had been tampered with by Moscow, the latest in Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal.

According to the BBC, athletes that can prove they have no connection to the doping scandal will be allowed to compete under a neutral flag.

Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev has called the ban “anti-Russian hysteria”.

Russia sporting ban could have cybersecurity impact

The impact of the Russia sporting ban could extend beyond sport, with Kyle Ehmke, a threat intelligence researcher at ThreatConnect believing that it could lead to a rise in “cyber assaults” against organisations:

“From 2016 through 2018, a jilted Russia conducted various activity against anti-doping related organisations and the Olympics themselves following bans for doping in sport. To that end, it’s important for us to consider the wide range of effects that Russia may seek to achieve following the most recent sporting ban from WADA – Russian actors have a history of undertaking cyber assaults following previous bans, targeting a whole range of organisations.

“In 2016, following WADA’s recommendation that Russian athletes be banned from the summer games in Rio, GRU-associated Fancy Bear actors registered domains spoofing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and then attempted an active measures campaign using the Fancy Bears HT cut out.

“In 2017 and 2018 following the IOC ban of Russian athletes, we saw possible Fancy Bear domains registered spoofing regional anti-doping agencies and the supplier of a testing kit. During the Olympics in 2018, another GRU affiliated threat group, Sandworm, sought to disrupt the winter games in South Korea in the Olympic Destroyer attack.”

He says that organisations such as WADA and FIFA must now be vigilant to protect against cyberattacks:

“Now that Russia has been banned once more, WADA and the competitions Russia has been banned from, such as the FIFA World Cup, need to remain vigilant. In the run up to Russia’s probable appeal of the ban, the likes of IOC, FIFA, WADA, CAS and other organisations working closely with the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Cup, as well as groups safeguarding athletes’ personal information, need to remain cognisant of the range of these attacks and attempt to proactively address them.”


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