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Winter Olympics will be targeted by hackers, McAfee says

(Image credit: Image Credit: Michaelwedermann / Pixabay)

McAfee has revealed that hackers have tried to obtain sensitive data from a number of groups involved with the upcoming Winter Olympics (opens in new tab) in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

The company released a report detailing how malware-infected emails were sent out last month to organisations connected to the games.  McAfee did not identify those behind the attacks but cautioned that more attacks would likely occur leading up to the 2018 games.  In the past, hackers have utilised similar methods in an attempt to steal passwords and financial data. 

According to McAfee (opens in new tab), a number of groups with ties to the Olympics had received malicious emails.  The company offered more details in a blog post (opens in new tab) on its site, saying: 

“The primary target of the email was icehockey@pyeongchang2018.com, with several organizations in South Korea on the BCC line. The majority of these organizations had some association with the Olympics, either in providing infrastructure or in a supporting role. The attackers appear to be casting a wide net with this campaign.” 

The malicious emails originated from an IP address based in Singapore and tried to convince recipients to open a Korean text document.  They also appeared to come from South Korea's National Counter-Terrorism Centre in an effort to appear legitimate.  

McAfee also revealed that the hackers used a technique called steganography that hides malware within text and images. 

Researchers at the University of California recently warned that there would be an increase in cyber attacks leading up to the Pyeongchang Games and McAfee agrees that this appears to be the case with the company warning that: “With the upcoming Olympics, we expect to see an increase in cyber attacks using Olympics-related themes.” 

Image Credit: Michaelwedermann / Pixabay

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.