The Winter Olympics in South Korea are already underway, and as usual, people around the world will watch their favorite athletes and cheer on their countrymates. Unfortunately, patriotic fans aren’t the only ones keeping an eye on the Games, as hackers have already targeted the event.

Two different groups of operatives are already believed to have broken into some of the hundreds of computers that are keeping everything from schedules to cafeteria orders to scoring up and running during the fifteen different sports’ events. One group is believed to be a Russian hacking group, and has accessed sensitive documents sent between members of the International Olympic Committee. Another group, thought to be a North Korean hacking contingent, has been targeting South Korean computers for a little over a month.

There are a lot of different motives for hacking. Stealing money, personal information, state or military secrets, and logistical data are all just a few treasured items cybercriminals work to get their hands on. However, it’s impossible to overlook the “hacking for embarrassment” sake aspect to cybercrimes, as doing something on a large-scale during a highly publicized international event can garner a hacker a lot of “street cred” among their peers.

With these events and other hacking attempts that are anticipated throughout the Games, it’s important for athletes, coaches, staff, and spectators to keep a close eye on their information. They also need to be mindful of which wifi connections they rely on, and understand that other people may be able to view their activity while online.

Of course, the attention and interest in the Olympics can impact people back home, too. Links to videos are a common source of malicious code, so sending out viral messages claiming to have a video of a specific event or performance from PyeongChang would be an effective way to infect a lot of computers at once. Sending messages or emails that entice victims to click the embedded link or open the attachment is a common tactic that hackers use to share malware; a message that looks like it comes from a trusted source (like a media sponsor of the Games) could trick people into installing it.


Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.