World Cup in your travel plans? US warns of Russian hackers

Maybe it’s best to leave your gadgets at home.

Marrian Zhou
Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Signage that reads "2018 FIFA World Cup Russia"

The World Cup this go-round is taking place in Russia.

Simon Hofmann - FIFA

The first game of the World Cup kicks off on Thursday. If you're headed to Russia for the action, US counterintelligence warns that hackers could be lurking in the shadows.

A US official advised American travelers on Tuesday not to take electronic devices to Russia for the World Cup because they might be hacked by criminals or the Russian government.

"Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don't assume you're too insignificant to be targeted," said William Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement to Reuters. "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."

Any data on your electronic devices could be accessed, including information that reveals your unique identity. And it isn't just US officials warning about hacking during the World Cup in Russia. British security agencies have issued similar warnings, reported Reuters.

Russian hacking tied to the 2016 presidential election is still under investigation, and the US Treasury Department just announced another round of sanctions tied to that activity.

FIFA, which organizes the World Cup, said it has no comment to make as the vote on the hosts of 2026 was just confirmed on Wednesday.

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