Olympics Might Be A Target For Cyber Espionage And Surveillance
Experts say cyber espionage and surveillance of athletes and visitors is the biggest threat by the Chinese government at the Games.
In recent years, the Olympic Games have become a target for cyber espionage, surveillance and other financially motivated attacks.
The NTT Corporation, which provided network security for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said there were more than 450 million cyberattacks launched during the 16 days of competition. That's 2.5 times more than the number of attacks on the 2012 London Olympics.
Beijing won’t be much different. A report from cybersecurity analysis firm Recorded Future found ransomware groups may try to encrypt machines used at the Games, in part because it could lead to a significant profit, given that teams or officials might need to pay ransom to regain access to those systems as soon as possible.
But experts think the biggest threat is possible cyber espionage and surveillance of athletes and visitors by the Chinese government.
The United States, Team Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Netherlands all urged their athletes and visitors to leave their personal phones and laptops back at home out of fear that they will be monitored by the government at the Games and thereafter.
"China's national security laws create a really different environment for privacy than what people are used to when they're in other countries, where privacy legislation places significant constraints on the government's ability to collect and use data," Robert Potter, CEO and co-founder of Internet 2.0 said. "The identifiers for your phone are automatically collected, so that information is gone the moment you hit a mobile phone tower in China."
Potter's cybersecurity company examined some of the software being provided by official sponsors to the Games and found that the Virtual Private Network service offered to athletes, which lets users hide and protect their internet traffic from being accessed by third parties, collected a "significant amount of user data" beyond what was needed to run the app.
Newsy's research showed the camera and photo libraries were required to be accessed by the app, and they just didn't seem to be a particularly good reason or justifiable reason to think that that was normal for a VPN application.
A separate report from Citizen Lab found serious privacy issues with the MY2022 Olympics app, which is required to be used by all attendees at the Beijing Games. For example, it contained an encryption flaw that could expose passport details and medical information of users.
Both the IOC and Beijing Olympic Committee have rejected claims that there are security concerns with the MY2022 Olympics App.
Experts told Newsy the only surefire way that visitors to the Olympics can protect themselves is by using new devices and accounts only while inside China in order to protect their personal information, then throw the devices away after the Games are over.
China is committed to having open and accessible internet available to athletes that are within the "COVID bubble," but there is a line between open internet access and unmonitored internet access — and China is making no guarantees around the latter.
Can the Winter Olympics survive climate change?
The Winter Olympics have already been postponed due to climate change and lack of quality snow, leaving many to wonder how the Games will go on.By AP
Athletes Force A Change In Ban Of Russians At Paralympics
The tipping point to the rapid turn of events Thursday was "a very, very volatile environment" in the athletes village in Beijing at the Paralympics.By Dita Alangkara / AP
Olympic Committee Calls For Russia To Be Excluded From Sports
The IOC also withdrew the Olympic Order it gave Vladimir Putin in 2001, and other Russian officials since.By Pavel Golovkin / AP
How is winter changing?
A warmer winter is preventing ice from forming on the Great Lakes, which have steadily lost ice cover since the 1970s.By Samantha Deleo / AP
Amid soaring crime, Memphis cops lowered the bar for hiring
Former Memphis police recruiters described a growing desperation to fill hundreds of slots in recent years.By Gerald Herbert / AP
Biden to push for bipartisanship in State of the Union address
The State of the Union will air Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT.By Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP