Published On: Wed, Feb 6th, 2019

Data Breach: Football, Tevfik Arif and the Doyen Group, the Negative Effects of Leaks

The biggest information leak in sports history was released over a span of four years, bringing with it international criticism from various sources regarding Football Leaks’ exaggerated claims. The news from Football Leaks, a website that was launched in the year 2015, released a series of private information retrieved through cybercrime to extract money from football groups and organizations. The supposed confidential information dispatched news concerning famous footballers, negatively affected the world’s most prominent players, teams, coaches and even Tekfik Arif and Doyen group.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

The crime was allegedly caused by a young 30-year-old Portuguese hacker, named Rui Pinto by the media in Lisbon. Rui is a college dropout who was interrogated by Portugal’s Policia Juiciaria after he was accused of the crime. His actions stirred skepticism and exposed an untouched side of soccer finance that gave the football players and coaches a bad image.

What Drove Rui Pinto to Cause Such a Scandal?

According to lawyers, Pinto’s utter distaste for criminal activity in the sports industry ignited the breach and recent Football Leaks scandal. The outrage that he feels doesn’t justify his actions for exposing such massive and accusatory claims.  Pinto was in complete violation of national and international football regulations that in turn tarnished the reputation of important football players. Pinto became an “important European whistleblower for Football Leaks” and his actions ignited multiple European judicial authorities to retrieve newfound knowledge on unlawful actions throughout the football industry.

Football Leaks was created with a collective of information from Real Madrid, Porto FC and Doyen Group among others. Doyen Investment Sports was one of the severely affected companies by this cybercrime. Based in Turkey since 2011, Doyen Group is managed by the Arif family. Tevfik Arif and Refik Arif were born in Kazakhstan. Later on, they became successful Soviet businessmen skilled in the art of real estate and business.

After some point, Tevfik Arif decided to extend his business to the United States. In 2001, Arif joined real estate agreements with Donald Trump. His reputation was tarnished with lofty claims and leaks about Doyen group from a website that simply cannot be relied on as factual.

In addition to the slew of news, another claim from Football Leaks was that prominent football player Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal raped Kathryn Mayorga. Documents regarding these allegations were retrieved from the representatives and lawyers closest to the footballer without his consent or knowledge. Other claims that were published on the website involved strange contract clauses that were inserted into the players’ contracts. Back in 2016, it was revealed that Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. received 2.5 million Euros a year for not criticizing PSG’s manager publicly.

What is True and What is False in Data Breaches?

Currently, leaked news and data breaches are nothing new in the digital era. These actions of cybercrime not only occur in the United States; leaks such as these happen everywhere, and no country, sport or team is exempt. From data records gathered by Varonis, since 2013, more than 1 billion records were lost or stolen in the United States. Canada has the second highest data breach per capita at a cost of approximately 92 billion records. France experiences the second most identity thefts in the world. Some data breaches don’t always involve losing money and can sometimes be a way for hackers to gain the information of users. In late 2016, Uber was adversely impacted when personal information of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers were exposed.

An investigation led to the knowledge that hackers managed to gather names, mobile phone numbers and driver’s license numbers of 600,000 Uber drivers. As far as the news goes, Social Security numbers and credit card information were not stolen. Another large-scale company that was shed with negative light was Yahoo. In the year 2013, Yahoo fell victim to the biggest data breach in history. In 2014, the attack stole 500 million users’ telephone numbers, birth dates, email addresses and names. The passwords stolen had been hashed using the sophisticated bcrypt algorithm. The financial consequences of this breach cost Yahoo an estimated at $350 million. Eventually, Verizon swooped in bough them out, paying a whopping $4.48 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business. When these types of data leaks occur, multiple companies can be adversely affected, and their reputations could be completely ruined.

Hackers who retrieve information from major companies are usually unknown and their identities are never revealed. This can raise suspicion as to the credibility of the data since it can always be altered according to one’s specific needs. The lack of credibility in the data exposed is one of the reasons why data breaches also cannot be trusted.

Data security is a major concern for companies and individuals everywhere and the high levels of sophistication of cyber attacks paired with lack of proper cybersecurity can cause businesses to collapse. Data breaching is a violation of company rights and regulations. It also causes irreparable damage to various companies and their employees. Every second, more than 56 data records are released or leaked around the world while large organizations are deeply dependent on storing online information.

Hackers everywhere in the world will always hide their identities in fear of being found out. Rui Pinto’s identity was revealed later after his misdeeds were exposed in news all over Spain and Portugal. This goes to show however agile and careful hackers tend to be, there will always be someone two steps ahead to reveal their crimes.  In order to keep organizations and even your own company’s data safe, it’s best to keep these vital tips in mind. Always upgrade software when it’s no longer supported by the manufacturer, enforce complicated credentials and multi-factor authentication and impart knowledge to employees on the best security practices to avoid data breaches and leaks. The lessons learned from Football Leaks affected everyone from lesser-known businessman Tevfik Arif of the Doyen Group to the worlds most famous football stars of all-time.

Author: Kostya Abaev

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