Feeds

Forget ski-jumping – Russians setting records in Sochi visitor hacking

... although they're not as quick as some FUDing would suggest

Build a business case: developing custom apps

It isn't just athletes that have been training hard for the Winter Olympics in Sochi; Russian hackers have also been sharpening their skills to harvest a wealth of valuable data from visitors to the event. But they're not as fast as some of the more excitable reports from the troubled event are telling it.

"The State Department warned that travelers should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms," NBC's foreign correspondent Richard Engel somewhat-breathlessly reported. "And as we found out you are especially exposed as soon as you try and communicate with anything."

Engel, accompanied by Trend Micro's senior researcher Kyle Wilhoit, showed an Android Samsung smartphone getting hacked in a Moscow café "before we'd finished our coffee," and a MacBook Air and a ThinkPad running Windows 7 falling to online attacks from a hotel room connection within 24 hours.

But, as Wilhoit later admitted on Twitter, there was more than a little intentional fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) added to the report – or as he described it "part of the 'tv magic'".

For a start, the coffee-break hacking of the smartphone wasn't uninitiated, he said, meaning the user had to actively download unknown software. Wilhoit said the attack was an .apk dropped from browsing to a .RU Sochi-themed website that the user had to agree to install.

As for the computers, Wilhoit recounts that they were fresh out of the box and appear to have been put online with no attempt to download the latest OS updates, no security software of any kind, and unpatched versions of Java, Flash, Adobe PDF Reader, and Microsoft Office 2007.

Given the testing methodology, if you tried that sort of stunt in any Starbucks in the US you'd get similar results, but Wilhoit promised a full technical report on the incident by Friday.

TV magic aside, visitors to the Russian games are certainly going to have problems. Kaspersky Lab is the official digital gatemaster for the games and says that the multiplicity of devices that visitors will be bringing to the sporting event will make ensuring security a tough job – El Reg would argue a near-impossible one.

As any IT manager worth their salt would tell you, it's a good idea to take a clean-skin laptop when traveling abroad. But that means a system that's been fully patched, has all but essential ports locked down, and which is crammed full of the best security software coders can write, with any valuable data being downloaded via VPN as needed. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.