Fresh off the heels of news that Brazilian hackers have turned to Telegram as their replacement for WhatsApp – which these criminals had been using for their surreptitious, sinister communications – the South American nation of more than 200 million is preparing for the finals days leading up to the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games of 2016. And like all large-scale international events, this is one that cyber criminals won't want to miss.
Readymade cyber attacks
There are certain staples that come with the Olympic games. People start looking out for the iconic rings on certain brand-name products. They being humming that notable tune that NBC plays without fail upon returning to live coverage from a break. Suddenly, a wave of national pride sweeps across the globe, as millions of people cheer their greatest into the record books.
And then there's the cyber attacks. This Olympic circuit, like any other, every nation in the world in which there are computers, basic internet connection and some sort of stake in the tournament will have to deal with the vultures – a.k.a hackers.
In a recent article posted on Trend Micro's SimplySecurity, expert Christopher Budd pointed out a few somewhat amusing, albeit no-less hazardous, characteristics of Olympic-based cyber threats. First among them is the fact that many Olympic-themes cyber attacks will look pretty much the same as they always have. Unfortunately, they'll work nonetheless.
"The good news is – cybercriminals are very predictable in their attacks using the Olympics as a lure," Budd wrote. "The bad news is that they're predictable because the same attacks work year after year. Like sharks, cybercriminals' Olympic-themed attacks don't evolve; they don't need to."
In other words, hackers are already prepared to exploit the games for the purposes of data theft, fraud, phishing and more.
Are you ready to defend against them?
Budd passed along a few recommendations for how to stay safe during this Olympic season. For one thing, hackers might try to get you to click on malicious links, or download files that may contain ransomware and other forms of malware. They'll try to steal login credentials by telling you to "sign up below" for free Olympic jerseys, and other forms of click-bait material. Social media, websites, blogs and more will all be utilized in bulk phishing schemes aimed at capitalizing on peoples' love of the Olympic games. Even fake applications on third-party app stores are a threat, so always be on the lookout for suspicious content. As long as you keep your eyes open, you should be able to see them coming.
Budd also recommends that you keep all of your software up to date, including any end-point security solutions that you may currently be running on your devices.
As for those who will actually be in attendance in Rio, cyber security researchers have implored visitors to be wary of free Wi-Fi hotspots in the city, according to NBC. Many of these networks will not encrypt data traffic, which means that any and all sensitive transfers risk interception, and because they're traversing the web completely unguarded, they're ripe for the plucking. As such, experts recommend using virtual private networks while in Rio during the games.
In conclusion, fans, viewers and participants of the 2016 Olympic games must be vigilant of cyber threats over the course the next month or so. This year in particular has been one of many firsts, as hackers have ruthlessly targeted hospitals, the electric grid and countless other organizations and their entities.
So be safe, have fun and keep an eye out for cyber crime.