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Hackers are targeting the Rio Olympics, so watch out for these cyberthreats

Michael Kan | July 21, 2016
Cyberterrorists and hacktivists could also try to disrupt the event

Tourists should still be careful, however. Any banking Trojan can still be dangerous because the malware can spy on computer users, said Dmitry Bestuzhev, the head of global research for security firm Kaspersky Lab.

He’s warning visitors to be wary of ATM and point-of-sale machines in the country. They often can be infected with malicious code that can secretly steal payment data once a banking card is swiped. “The attacker has the capability to intercept the data and then to clone the card,” he added.

Another danger is public Wi-Fi spots in Brazil, which often times are insecure. A hacker can use them to eavesdrop on victims and steal their passwords, Bestuzhev said. He recommends users buy a VPN service to encrypt their Internet communications.

Hacktivists and cyber terrorists could be lurking

The other big threat that could disrupt the games is hacktivists, said Robert Muggah, a security specialist at Brazilian think tank the Igarapé Institute.

Anonymous, for instance, is targeting the event and could end up embarrassing the local government. The hacking group has already managed to temporarily shut down the official Rio Olympics website on May 11, and then Brazil’s Ministry of Sports site on the following day, Muggah said.

“Analysts are also concerned with Islamic terrorists,” he added. The extremist group ISIS has been trying to use the encrypted messaging app Telegram to attract sympathizers in Brazil.

Local authorities, however, are bolstering their cybersecurity defenses, and the country is no stranger to holding major events, Muggah said. In 2014, the country was the site of the World Cup.

In the run-up to the Olympics, the U.S. government has launched a multimedia campaign pointing out the possible cyberthreats travelers may encounter in foreign countries. In extreme cases, U.S. tourists could even be the targets of espionage, the campaign warns.

At the very least, visitors heading to Rio de Janeiro should watch out for smartphone theft. Muggah said thefts are quite high in the country because the devices are so expensive. New iPhones, for example, have been known to cost about US$1,000 in Brazil due to the local import tariffs and taxes.

 

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