Russian daily Kommersant reports today that more athletes' medical files from the World Anti-Doping Agency have been leaked, including three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. With
tensions rising between Russia and the West, such an information security breach — whether about alleged banned substances in sports or gossipy emails from retired generals — tend to look like an act of geopolitical aggression. But in the digital world, reality has even more layers than offline espionage.
Since the advent of computing technologies, experts have been forced to face the threat of "hacking," when a digital systems is compromised remotely by those with the same skill set as the builders of the system itself. But beyond governments, individual hacking, be it to demonstrate political beliefs, fight for justice, or simply to display talent, is no less of a threat.
To avoid being detected, hackers use a variety of tools to disguise their identity or hide their location. Tricking a computer into thinking that you are at the North Pole can be as simple as editing your browser settings. Tracing a hack can be more difficult than executing it, and is the reason why many so-called "hacktivist" groups — like Anonymous or Fancy Bear — remain beyond the reach of authorities.
Cyber security is no doubt a major new foreign policy challenge, but jumping to conclusions about the source or motivation of a hack is also a risk in our real-time world.
It's important to remember that just about anything with a network connection can be compromised and manipulated, from the Pentagon to the Kremlin, Democratic Party servers and World Anti-Doping Association databases — and yes, as the Moscow daily Kommersant reports: to your very own refrigerator.