America’s top counter-espionage official is warning tourists attending the World Cup to leave their phones and laptops at home over Russian hacking fears.
“If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, or other electronic device with you, make no mistake, any data on those devices may be accessed by the Russian government or cybercriminals,” William Evanina, the director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, part of the FBI, said in a statement to Reuters.
Even ordinary citizens are at risk, Evanina told the news service.
“Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted,” he wrote. “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.”
British officials have also warned their citizens against taking phones and other devices with them to Russia.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said in a statement it was “providing expert cybersecurity advice to the [UK] Football Association ahead of their departure to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.”
The World Cup kicks off on Thursday in Sochi.
Russian hackers, some tied to the Kremlin, have been accused of stealing data from visitors and others.
In May, the FBI recommended that Americans reboot home and small office routers that could have been infected with disruptive malware, allegedly by sophisticated state-backed Russian hackers.
An estimated half million routers and network-attached storage devices were infected.