Feb 1, 2022 - Sports

FBI warns of cyber threats at Beijing Olympics

Photo of Team USA short track speed skaters on the ice skating in a line formation
Team USA athletes skate during a short track speed skating practice session ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at Capital Indoor Stadium on Feb. 1 in Beijing, China. Photo: Elsa via Getty Images

The FBI is warning people and businesses to remain vigilant against malicious actors who could interfere with the Beijing Olympic Games through a "broad range" of cyber activities, including theft of sensitive data.

Why it matters: High-profile events like the Olympics give cyber actors the opportunity to "make money, sow confusion, increase their notoriety, discredit adversaries, and advance ideological goals," the FBI said in a statement Tuesday.

Details: Possible disruptions include ransomware, malware, data theft or leaks, phishing campaigns, disinformation campaigns and "insider threats" that can interfere with the digital infrastructure supporting the Olympics, according to the FBI.

  • Cyber actors could target networks of hotels, mass transit providers, ticketing services and event security, among others.
  • "The FBI to date is not aware of any specific cyber threat against the Olympics, but encourages partners to remain vigilant and maintain best practices in their network and digital environments," the agency said.
  • Olympic participants and travelers should use temporary phones in order to decrease the risk of threats associated with apps.
  • The FBI is also urging service providers and other relevant businesses to provide training on potential cyber threats and how they happen.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ina Fried: Olympics are always a prime target for cyberattacks, though Tokyo Olympics was relatively calm on that front.

But, but, but: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics experienced over 450 million attempted cyber-related incidents, according to NTT Corporation, which provided telecoms and network security services for the events.

  • None were successful due to existing measures, but popular attack methods included email spoofing, malware and the use of fake websites and streaming services designed to imitate official Olympic providers, per the FBI.
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