FBI 'Urges' Athletes to Use Temporary Phones in Beijing National flags of competitor countries are flown at Genting Snow Park on Tuesday in Zhangjiakou, China. (Carl Court/Getty Images)
By Theodore Bunker | Tuesday, 01 February 2022 11:42 AM
The FBI "urges" Olympic athletes to use a temporary cell phone while in China for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, though the agency said it's unaware of "any specific threat," ABC News reports.
"The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use a temporary phone while at the Games," the agency wrote in a notice to U.S. Olympic athletes, according to ABC News. "While there were no major cyber disruptions, the most popular attack methods used were malware, email spoofing, phishing and the use of fake websites and streaming services designed to look like official Olympic service providers."
The agency notes, "These activities include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, malware, social engineering, data theft or leaks, phishing campaigns, disinformation campaigns, or insider threats, and when successful, can block or disrupt the live broadcast of the event, steal or leak sensitive data, or impact public or private digital infrastructure supporting the Olympics."
According to the FBI, more than 450 million attempted cyber-related incidents were detected during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, last year, "though none were successful due to cybersecurity measures in place."
During the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Russian hackers "conducted a destructive cyberattack against the Opening Ceremony, enabled through spear phishing campaigns and malicious mobile applications," according to the FBI. “The download and use of applications, including those required to participate or stay in country, could increase the opportunity for cyber actors to steal personal information or install tracking tools, malicious code, or malware."
A spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic Committee confirmed to ABC News last week that they had sent a similar message to the country’s athletes.
"The Canadian Olympic Committee works with cybersecurity experts, government agencies, the International Olympic Committee, and other National Olympic Committees to ensure we have appropriate plans for every Games environment we work in.," the spokesperson said. "Some of our recommendations to Team Canada members include leaving personal devices at home, limiting personal information stored on devices brought to the Games, only connecting to official wifi, turning off transmitting functions when not in use, removing any Games related apps when they’re no longer necessary, and to practice good cyber-hygiene at all times."