IAAF becomes latest target for hacker ‘Fancy Bears’

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Paris, April 3 (IANS) The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Monday declared a potential threat by a network hacker named “Fancy Bears” to its servers containing Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) applications of athletes.

“The IAAF believes that it has been a victim of a cyber attack which has compromised athletes’ Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) applications stored on servers,” said the world athletics governing body, headquartered in Monaco, in a statement released on Monday.

In January, IAAF contacted a British security company to conduct a technical investigation to better protect its systems, which led to the discovery that IAAF’s servers have been the latest target for “Fancy Bears” after World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last year, reports Xinhua news agency.

IAAF believed that “Fancy Bears” has compromised athletes’ TUE applications stored on IAAF servers through an unauthorised remote access on February 21, when meta data from athlete TUEs was collected from a file server and stored in a new file.

IAAF has not confirmed a subsequent intrusion by hacker to its servers, while admitting that it has showed the attackers’ interest and intent, and their access and means to obtain content from the file at will.

IAAF has contacted athletes who have applied for TUEs since 2012. “It is our priority to the athletes who have provided the IAAF with information that they thought would be safe and confidential,” said IAAF President Sebastian Coe, adding that the organisation had sincerest apologies and commitment to do everything in its power to remedy the situation.

“Fancy Bears” began to post a series of medical records of athletes online since last September with information collected from the WADA database. Athletes involved included American tennis sisters Venus Williams and Serena Williams, gymnast Simone Biles, British cycling legend Bradley Wiggins, Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal and Japanese women paddler Ai Fukuhara.

WADA believed that “Fancy Bears” has some links with Russia, which the latter has denied.

“Fancy Bears” didn’t post any IAAF-related information as of Monday afternoon.

–IANS

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