Malware Attacks Look to Disrupt Winter Olympics
Cybersecurity firms are confirming that a computer malware attack dubbed "Olympic Destroyer" hit Wi-Fi systems at the Winter Games.
- By Sydny Shepard
- Feb 14, 2018
When it comes to securing the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, organizers are cautious of every potential attack on the Games, including cyber attacks.
Cybersecurity experts are now confirming that a malware attack has hit select networks and Wi-Fi systems at the Winter Games on Friday, the day of the Opening Ceremony. Users with a @pyeongchang2018.com email address were targeted in the attack, which lasted more than an hour on Friday night.
The Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Games confirmed the cyber attack caused a malfunction of Internet protocol televisions at the Main Press Center, according to South Korea's Yonhap News. The committee was forced to "shut down the servers to prevent further damage, leading to the closure of the Pyeongchang 2018 website."
The malware was designed to wipe computer files but "intentionally holds back from inflicting maximum damage" allowing the hacker to deliberately pull its punches.
"Instead of deleting all the files on a computer, it only deleted those related to booting up, meaning an average tech could fix it with relative ease. Researchers have never seen that sort of restraint before from that kind of malware," according to Cisco's Talos division.
The cyber experts aren't ready to point the finger at where the attack might have originated, but the countries that seem to be surfacing as suspects are Russia and North Korea. According to Wired, however, the hacker "left behind some calling card that look rather Russian."
A separate hacking operation, dubbed "Operation GoldDragon" has attempted to infect target computers belonging to South Korean Olympics-related organizations with three separate malicious tools. The spyware "would enable hackers to deeply scour the compromised computers' contents."
McAfee identifies the three malicious tools as GoldDragon, BravePrince and GHOST419.
McAfee traced the phishing scheme that provided entry for the spyware "to a remote server in the Czech Republic, registered with fake credentials to a South Korean government ministry. And they found publicly accessible logs on that remote server that showed victim machines were in fact connecting to it from South Korea, a sign of actual infections," according to Wired.
Although McAfee won't say for sure, the company's chief scientist, Raj Samani, says his working theory is that the spyware attack is a North Korean operation, according to NPR.
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.