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February 12, 2018updated 13 Feb 2018 4:26pm

PyeongChang Winter Olympics cyberattack revealed

Many foresaw the PyeongChang Winter Olympics being a prime target for cyberattacks, now a very successful one has been revealed.

By Tom Ball

Many foresaw the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea being a major cyberattack target, now officials have confirmed an attack that took the official website offline.

It has been reported that the attack happened very early in the course of the games, debilitating the website shortly before the opening ceremony. The attack also impacted internet and TV systems, normal service was re-established after twelve hours.

In light of the tumultuous geo-political landscape that North and South Korea are at the centre of, the Winter Olympics have long been considered a prime target for threat actors pushing an array of agendas.

PyeongChang Winter Olympics cyberattack revealedPeter Carlisle, VP EMEA, Thales eSecurity: “Global gatherings such as the Olympics that see world leaders, businesses and governmental organisations converge on one location are a naturally attractive target for digital criminal activity. Notably, it is becoming increasingly likely that multiple attempts will be made to obtain sensitive information like passwords.

This instance at the Winter Olympics is proof of how difficult it is to maintain security, even with the foresight to know that the event would be a prime target for nation state and other hackers.

“What’s more, with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in less than six months’ time, not only will those organisations that have been hacked have questions of credibility thrown at them, but they also risk being faced with heavy fines. To ensure compliance, across continents and industries, cyber security simply must be a top priority rather than a mere afterthought,” Carlisle said.

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As reported by the BBC, Mark Adams, an International Olympic Committee spokesman, said: “Maintaining secure operations is our purpose.” There has yet to be any official comment on the origin of the attack.

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Ryan Sherstobitoff, senior analyst, McAfee Advanced Threat Research, said: “A new variant of the malicious documents targeting the Winter Games was discovered by McAfee Advanced Threat Research analysts just a few days prior to opening ceremonies. The new document contained the same metadata properties as those related to Operation GoldDragon and sought to gain persistence on systems owned by organizations involved with the Winter Games. It is clear attacks are ongoing and are likely to continue throughout the duration of the games, what is yet to be determined is if actors are working simply to gain disruption or if their motives are greater. McAfee analysts are continuing to monitor the situation.”

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