UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) hit by cyber-attack

UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) hit by cyber-attack

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The UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD) was hit by a cyber-attack at the end of March. The agency holds a wealth of data about thousands of professional footballers and Olympic athletes for anti-doping monitoring and compliance.

The data they hold includes medical records and drugs that are used by athletes in accordance with exemption rules.

In 2016, the World Anti-Doping Agency was the subject to a cyber espionage leak that released the classified medical records and drug testing documentation for high-profile athletes, which included drugs used under exemption rules.

Although the UKAD cyber attack in this instance was said to have been unsuccessful, the attack itself highlights just how much of a target that agencies like UKAD are. They hold a huge amount of incredibly personal – and therefore valuable – data about high-profile sporting individuals.

Not so long ago, hackers released names of pro football players that allegedly failed drug tests which included famous names such as ex-Premier League players Carlos Tevez, Dirk Kuyt and Gabriel Heinze.

Some cybercriminals may want to try and blackmail individuals, and some have leaked data in the name of fair play and clean sport for individuals who do take drugs and are exempt from sanctions for medical reasons. Those who say they are “white-hat hackers” will break into systems for political / statement reasons, or to identify vulnerabilities that are then passed to the organisations who are breached.

In a statement released by UKAD, they said they were “made aware of a cyber attack affecting our systems.” He went on to say:

“We can confirm that no data has been lost or compromised. We took the necessary steps to investigate and resolve the situation. No core activity including our testing programme has been impacted. We are satisfied that we have appropriate levels of cyber-security in place, and we continually review our systems and measures to ensure they are of a very high standard.”

On this occasion, they were successful in defending their systems and servers against the cyber attack. This doesn’t mean the hackers won’t try again, though; with the wealth of sensitive and valuable data UKAD holds, they will likely be a prime-target for future attacks.


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