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Champions League Final Targeted by Russian Hackers

 2 min read / 

Liverpool and Real Madrid will take to the field in Kiev on Saturday for the Champions League final. Their two star players, Mohamed Salah for Liverpool and Christiano Ronaldo for Real Madrid, will both be hoping to lift the cup at the end of the night. That will not be the only battle going on though, as the Ukranian state security service, the SBU, warned that Russia might be gearing up for a cyber attack to take place over the weekend.

Cisco Systems revealed more information than the SBU and claimed that as many as 500,000 routers and other computer equipment had been infected with malicious code. While not wholly focused on Ukraine, many of these devices are within the country. Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group, a Cisco team specialising in cybersecurity, asserted that the Russian government was responsible for the infections. Malware which was found on compromised hardware, called VPNFilter, has been used before against the US government, and it has links with Russian hackers.

Infections of Ukrainian devices spiked from May 8th, three weeks before the final, and it is thought that this set piece may be the stage for a massive Russian cyber attack. Hackers have focused on Ukraine during holidays or big public events recently. Ukraine and Russia have had terrible relations recently, with Russia annexing Crimea and supporting separatist rebels in Donbass, an area in the east of Ukraine which borders Russia.

Russia has launched cyber attacks on Ukraine infrastructure in the past. In 2017 the NotPetya attack targeted computer systems in Ukraine, and in 2015 and 2016 the power grid of the country was attacked.

While 500,000 devices have been identified so far as being infected, the real number may be much greater than this. Russia will host the World Cup later this summer.

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