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FBI urging Olympic athletes to stay private telephones at house

WASHINGTON D.C.: U.S. Olympic athletes traveling to Beijing for the Winter Olympics have been warned to keep their personal cellphones at home and only use disposable phones.

“The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use a temporary phone while at the Games,” according to a notice sent by the agency. “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.”

“These activities include distributed denial of service 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,” the FBI warned.

During the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, there were more than 450 million attempted cyber-related incidents, “Though none were successful due to cybersecurity measures in place,” the FBI said.

During the 2018 Winter Olympics, Russian cyber actors “conducted a destructive cyberattack against the Opening Ceremony, enabled through spear phishing campaigns and malicious mobile applications,” the FBI said.

The Canadian Olympic Committee has issued a similar statement urging athletes to leave their phones at home.

“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 Wi-Fi, 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,” a Canadian spokesperson said.

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