With charges of doping leveled against Russian sportspersons in February’s Olympic Games, the news of an attempted cyberattack targeting the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) last weekend has gained traction and significance.
Though investigations are still to be completed on who perpetrated this cyberattack, the suspicion among the media and the larger public is towards the Russian group of hackers going by the name Fancy Bear.
The agency has confirmed that no data has been lost in the attempted attack.
Staff Informed on Monday
Going by the media reports on this attempted cyberattack, the staff working at the United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency was called into a meeting last Monday when they were told that their systems might have been compromised and they will not be able carry on any activity on their computers.
Later, the UKAD put out a statement claiming that there had not been a breach of their firewalls and their network stands fully protected.
The United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency had acknowledged that a cyberattack did take place, but no files have been accessed. The attack was foiled by their system’s protective tools.
Old Memories Still Haunt
The mention of the involvement of Fancy Bear has brought forth memories of the more serious cyberattack mounted by this same Russian hacking group in the year 2016, when the systems of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were attacked.
The hackers were not only successful in their cyberattack on WADA, but they went a step further and revealed the names of athletes who received exemptions from WADA for use of substances on therapeutic grounds.
Later, the Fancy Bear hackers again mounted another cyberattack, this time on the International Association of Athletic Federations and the International Olympic Committee.
There were also glitches in the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics and it was alleged to be a state-sponsored cyberattack in retaliation to the ban imposed on the Russian team from participating in the event.
UKAD Wants Clean Sport
The primary objective of WADA and its U.K. arm, UKAD, is to make sure all sporting events are free from any kind of unhealthy practices, mainly use of performance enhancement drugs in any form. Though it functions under the aegis of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom, it is an autonomous body and plays a key role in preventing young adults who take to sports from falling a prey to unscrupulous traders of drugs and other substances.
Apart from the routine anti-doping tests that UKAD undertakes, they also keep a close eye on top athletes; on their food habits and the medications they consume.
Having suffered this attempted cyberattack, UKAD has clarified that no data has been lost from their computers. And the agency must have got an audit done of their systems through cybersecurity experts to check if their systems are in place and that the cyberattack was thwarted.
The next part of the investigation would be to investigate and identify the hackers. It may turn out that the hackers were indeed orchestrated by the Fancy Bear group of Russia.