Sweden blames Russia for Swedish Sports Confederation hack

Pierluigi Paganini April 14, 2021

The Swedish Sports Confederation organization was compromised in 2017-18 by hackers working for Russian military intelligence, officials said.

The Swedish Sports Confederation is the umbrella organisation of the Swedish sports movement, it was hacked by Russian military intelligence in a campaign conducted between December 2017 and May 2018, officials said.

In the same period, Russia-linked hackers working for the military intelligence service GRU targeted other prominent sporting bodies, including World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and FIFA.

According to the experts, the hackers hit the WADA agency in response to accusations of government-sponsored doping for Russian athletics, some of them were even banned from the 2016 Olympic Games.

Swedish prosecutors confirmed that the Swedish Sports Confederation was breached by GRU that stole athletes’ personal details, such as medical records, and shared them with local media.

The campaign was uncovered following a joint operation conducted by the Swedish Security Service along with foreign peers. The bad news is that the investigation was dropped because according to public prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist, “the necessary preconditions for taking legal proceedings abroad or extradition to Sweden are lacking.”

“The investigation shows that the Russian military intelligence, GRU who, via its 85th Center, also known as unit 26165, has planned and carried out the serious breaches of data secrecy against the Swedish Sports Confederation,” said Ljungqvist. “The information has been published openly and, based on these details, Swedish media have written articles which follow GRU’s narrative of discrediting athletes and sports organisations in the West.”

This is the first time that Swedish officials formally blamed Russia for the 2017 hack of the Swedish Sports Confederation (SSC). Ljungqvist explained that the investigation was interrupted because there is no legal backing to support Swedish authorities in charging the foreign state-sponsored hackers and requesting their extradition from Russia so they can be prosecuted in Sweden.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Russia)

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