- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2018

Hackers may use the Winter Olympics starting next week to target travelers attending the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned Thursday.

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a DHS office responsible for protecting against hacker attacks, advised travelers of the potential risks associated with exercising poor cyber hygiene in and around the upcoming games.

“At high-profile events, cyber activists may take advantage of the large audience to spread their message. Cyber criminals may attempt to steal personally identifiable information or harvest users’ credentials for financial gain. There is also the possibility that mobile or other communications will be monitored,” the warning said.

Travelers can reduce the risk of being hacked abroad by taking simple steps to protect their personal devices, such as disabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not needed, using strong passwords to safeguard their accounts and avoiding public or unsecured wireless networks, US-CERT warned.

The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to start Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, roughly 50 miles south of the nation’s heavily fortified border with North Korea.

The U.S. has previously accused North Korean hackers with waging successful cyberattacks against U.S. targets, including the 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment breach credited with causing millions of dollars in damages to the Hollywood studio, as well as the WannaCry virus that infected computer systems in over 150 countries last year, including those used by victims including FedEx and others.

More recently, researchers at the U.S. security firm McAfee found evidence this week of a possible North Korean state-sponsored espionage operation targeting South Korean Olympics-related organizations, Wired reported Wednesday. Last week, meanwhile, a group associated with Russia’s state-sponsored hacking operations took credit for releasing documents stolen from the International Luge Federation.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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