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  • June 14, 2018

World Cup travelers should leave their mobile phones, laptops and tablets behind.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is kicking off in Russia today, with at least 1 million visitors expected to travel to Moscow alone to take in the world’s biggest sporting event in person.

But the event will feature more than just breathtaking goals and soccer superstars: According to researchers and at least one U.S. counter-intelligence head, travelers could face a bevy of cyber-dangers while in-country.

In a statement to Reuters on Tuesday, William Evanina, an FBI agent and the director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, warned that World Cup travelers had best leave their phones and other gadgets at home to avoid cyber-compromise.

‘If you’re planning on taking a mobile phone, laptop, PDA, or other electronic device with you – make no mistake – any data on those devices (especially your personally identifiable information) may be accessed by the Russian government or cybercriminals,’ he said.

He added, “Corporate and government officials are most at risk, but don’t assume you’re too insignificant to be targeted. 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.”

The U.S. government has issued similar warnings for other major sporting events, including this year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea; cybercriminals after all have a knack for being where the people are and are generally poised to take advantage of the situation. But researchers said that it will pay to be extra-vigilant when traveling to the World Cup, thanks to Russia’s prodigious underground cybercrime scene.

‘Russia is an unsecure location and travelers need to consider themselves compromised the moment they step off the airplane,’ said Sinan Eren, CEO of Fyde Security, in an interview with Threatpost. ‘Everyone should consider themselves a high-value target for potential cyber-scammers. The fact that you come from the United States, a wealthy country compared to Russia, means that you are a potentially a meaningful return on investment for Russian cybercriminals.’

Read the full article at Threatpost