FAI assures ticket holders are not affected by latest data breach

6 Jun 2019

The Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Image: © Pavel Losevsky/Stock.adobe.com

At a time of great upheaval within the FAI, the sports body has revealed it has suffered a data breach from an external hacker.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has confirmed that servers at its headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin, have been breached. In a brief statement, the association said that the source of the cyberattack was external and was a targeted effort by whomever was behind it.

As part of the attack, its email services were affected but have now been partially restored. To determine what happened, the FAI has called in forensic computer scientists to the Abbotstown site who are now investigating.

“The Football Association of Ireland has informed both An Garda Síochana and the Data Protection Commission of the breach,” the statement read.

The FAI also assured season ticket holders and anyone else who bought tickets for the Ireland national teams’ matches were not affected as part of the breach.

“The association assures customers that no breach of payment details took place, as such data is stored off-site,” it said. “FAI ticket sales are also processed and paid for via a third-party platform.”

The news comes at a time when the FAI is subject to six reviews of its internal affairs and finances following the stepping down of its CEO, John Delaney, and a number of board member resignations.

This isn’t the first time that a football association has been targeted by cybercriminals, with the world’s largest football governing body, FIFA, admitting in 2018 that it was on the receiving end of a major breach.

At the time, it said that the hack had occurred in March of that year, resulting in the release of internal documents that were eventually obtained by the media. This was FIFA’s second incident in the space of a year, having also admitted to being targeted by groups linked to Russia’s intelligence agency in 2017. This resulted in the publishing of a list of failed drug tests by various players.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic