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Russian Cyberspies Again Target Sporting, Anti-Doping Organizations

A Russia-linked cyberspy group has targeted over a dozen anti-doping and sporting organizations in a recent campaign, Microsoft reported on Monday.

According to Microsoft, the threat actor known as Strontium, Fancy Bear and APT28 has targeted at least 16 national and international anti-doping and sporting organizations across three continents.

A Russia-linked cyberspy group has targeted over a dozen anti-doping and sporting organizations in a recent campaign, Microsoft reported on Monday.

According to Microsoft, the threat actor known as Strontium, Fancy Bear and APT28 has targeted at least 16 national and international anti-doping and sporting organizations across three continents.

The attacks observed by the company started on September 16, roughly one week before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decided that Russia would not be allowed to compete in the World Athletics Championships in Doha, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that Russia could be banned from all major sports events, including the Tokyo Summer Games in 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, due to inconsistencies in anti-doping lab data.

Microsoft said some of the attacks launched by Strontium were successful, but most of them failed.

The hackers relied on previously used tools and techniques to launch the attacks, including spear-phishing, password spraying, exploitation of internet-exposed devices, and open-source and customer malware.

Security experts believe Strontium is behind Fancy Bears, which in the past years leaked significant amounts of doping-related emails and medical documents from WADA and other sporting organizations, claiming to be a group of hacktivists that stands for “fair play and clean sport.”

These hacker attacks resulted in the U.S. Department of Justice indicting several Russian intelligence officers in October 2018.

Microsoft has been keeping a close eye on Strontium activities and last year it took control of several domains used by the hackers in what appeared to be a campaign related to the midterm elections in the United States.

Related: Microsoft Says Russian Hackers Targeted Democratic Institutions in Europe

Related: Russian Hackers Leverage IoT Devices to Access Corporate Networks

Related: Russian Cyberspies Accused of Attack on Olympics Anti-Doping Agency

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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