Microsoft has reported an attack by hackers allegedly associated with the Russian authorities against at least 16 national and international anti-doping organizations around the world. Large cyber attacks are taking place ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the company noted. Responsible consider the group of hackers Strontium (aka Fancy Bear), which in the US is associated with the Russian GRU and the leak of Democratic Party mail before the 2016 presidential election.
“At least 16 national and international sports and anti-doping organizations on three continents were the victims of these attacks, which began on September 16, shortly before reports of new possible actions being taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA),” Microsoft said in a statement.
At the mention of “new possible actions” Microsoft refers to the text of the BBC. In it, WADA states that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) does not comply with the international anti-doping code since there were inconsistencies in the doping samples submitted by the Russian agency. Violations were found in the database of doping samples of Russian athletes, which were taken from 2012 to 2015 in the Moscow laboratory.
- WADA deprived RUSADA of membership in the agency in November 2015, the reason was the publication of Richard McLaren’s report on the existence of an institutional doping system in Russia. The Russian agency was promised to be restored in rights only if it was recognized as an anti-doping violation and WADA was granted access to samples from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
- In the spring of 2019, RUSADA was fully restored to its rights.
According to Microsoft, some cyber-attacks have been successful. Hackers used phishing, malware, and password spoofing (brute-force usernames with a typical weak password).
RUSADA Director General Yuri Ganus recently spoke about the replacement of thousands of doping samples and actually acknowledged the validity of WADA claims. Official confirmation of WADA’s suspicions could lead to the disqualification of RUSADA and affect the performance of Russian athletes at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo – until their suspension.
For the first time, Microsoft Vice President Tom Burt spoke about Strontium’s ties with the Russian government. Speaking at a security forum in Aspen, he said that according to the company, the same hackers who attacked Democrats in 2016 tried to hack at least three candidates in the midterm elections of 2018.