The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Tuesday announced the release of a Private Industry Notification (PIN) to warn entities associated with the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic games of potential cyberattacks targeting them.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will result in foreign spectators relying on streaming services and social media to stay up-to-date with the Olympics, and adversaries might attempt to disrupt such services using various techniques.
According to the FBI, threat actors seeking to disrupt the live broadcast of the event might launch distributed denial of service (DDoS) or ransomware attacks, or could attempt to implant malware in the networks of hotels or transit and other services providers.
What’s more, adversaries could employ social engineering techniques or phishing to harvest sensitive data, they might launch disinformation campaigns, or engage in data theft or leaks. The attacks could target both public and private digital infrastructure supporting the Olympics, the FBI notes in the PIN.
However, Olympics participants and travelers might become the targets of such attacks as well and should pay attention to the mobile applications they use, especially if they are built by untrusted vendors.
“The download and use of applications, including those required to participate or stay in the country, could increase the opportunity for cyber actors to steal personal information or install tracking tools, malicious code, or malware,” the FBI says.
Athletes, the Bureau underlines, should use temporary phones during their participation at the Games, and leave their personal cell phones at home. The National Olympic Committees in some Western countries are giving the same advice to their athletes.
The FBI hasn’t identified any specific cyber-threats targeting the February 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and March 2022 Paralympics, but has released the alert to increase awareness on the cyber risks that both organizations and athletes face.
“Large, high-profile events provide an opportunity for criminal and nation-state cyber actors to make money, sow confusion, increase their notoriety, discredit adversaries, and advance ideological goals,” the FBI says.
The increased use of mobile apps and new digital infrastructure could represent opportunities for attackers to steal personal information or implant malware and tracking tools.
Athletes participating in the Games will be required to use the MY2022 mobile app for the tracking of their health and travel. Researchers have identified several security issues in the MY2022 app.
The FBI tells service providers to maintain business continuity plans, to use VPN services, monitor their networks, employ cybersecurity best practices, and make sure they have applied the necessary patches to address potential threats.