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Winter Olympics’ Security on Alert, but Hackers Have a Head Start


Computer systems at the Olympics are likely to face attack.

The security company McAfee said last month more than 300 Olympics-related computer systems have already been hit, with many of them compromised, in what its investigators described as a preliminary hacking campaign.

Credit: Minh Uong/The New York Times

The Department of Homeland Security is warning Americans planning to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang that cybercriminals are likely to be targeting the Games.

Officials in South Korea are facing a double threat. At the Olympic Committee's Security Command Center in an unmarked facility in Pyeongchang, security experts from around the world are monitoring threats from North Korean hackers who have been probing the computer networks that manage South Korean finance, media and critical infrastructure systems for years.

And while some people believe that diplomatic efforts may have eased the North Korean threat to the Games, others are bracing for the impact of a hacking campaign by Russian groups retaliating for a ban on Russian athletes. Security companies said these groups had successfully targeted the computer systems of Olympic-related organizations months ago.

Just how those hacks could lead to broader attacks is not clear. But cybersecurity researchers said the Olympic Games — more digitized than ever — are ripe targets for hackers searching for embarrassing information on everyone from athletes to organizers or simply looking to cause trouble by manipulating scoring or lighting systems.

More than 300 Olympics-related computer systems have already been hit, with many of them compromised, the security company McAfee said last month, in what its investigators described as a preliminary hacking campaign. On Friday, the second stage of that attack appeared to be underway, as assailants siphoned data from victims' machines back to their own computers systems, McAfee's researchers said.

 

From The New York Times


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