No joke about a hacking referee

Opinion by Dan Raywood

Is everyone capable of hacking? Arguably yes, from large scale network or application attacks to defacing someone's Facebook page, all it takes is a bit of knowledge and a password in some instances.

Is everyone capable of hacking? Arguably yes, from large scale network or application attacks to defacing someone's Facebook page, all it takes is a bit of knowledge and a password in some instances.

I was mildly amused to read the BBC story about football referee Dean Mohareb being removed from a game he was due to officiate and being arrested on charges of 'hacking the accounts of a colleague at the Football Association' (FA).

Referees became professional a few years ago meaning they are no longer policemen or lawyers working as referees at the weekend, but instead they are employees of the FA, and subject to its rules. The allegations the arrested referee faces include that he passed the information to the media.

The BBC reported that 'a 29-year-old man had been bailed on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material/data and disseminating private information'. Mohareb, who is currently the FA's national referee development manager and a Football League referee, is responsible for handling sensitive data, including data regarding children.

According to another report by the Guardian, CID are investigating the hacking of personal and work email accounts belonging to Janie Frampton, the FA's former national referee manager for education and training, after they were leaked to the press from a single email address, over an extended period.

Her suspension was reportedly caused by offering tickets for flight upgrades. During the internal investigation, emails were sent to senior figures in football from the same email account calling for Frampton to be sacked. The hacker adopted the name 'pink ref' to post comments about the case in internet chat rooms.

So was this a case of an annoyed or jealous colleague? Possibly, maybe with Frampton's suspension in mind, the hacker was simply taking revenge in the name of good, but there is nothing good in what they did.

It could be said that using a secure password would have prevented this hacking from occurring, but the major problem here is that one member of an officiating body accessed the personal accounts of another employee, and if that happened in any other business or regulator, no one would make light of it.

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