Security

Winter Olympics website downed by cyber attack

There was nothing to see here, but please move along, nothing to see here...

By Simon Sharwood

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Updated The Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics' website went down just before the event's Friday opening ceremony in South Korea, thanks to a cyber-attack, and stayed down for about 12 hours.

The outage left users unable to print tickets or view information about the games. Some networks around the games venues also went down.

Speculation quickly suggested the outages were not accidental and at a Sunday evening news conference, Pyeongchang 2018 spokesperson Sung Baik-you confirmed they were caused by an attack.

"We know the cause of that problem, but those kind of issues occur very frequently during the Olympic Games," he said. "We have decided with the IOC that we are not going to reveal the source."

International Olympics Committee (IOC) head of communications Mark Adams suggested the problem could be ongoing. He told the briefing "We wouldn't start giving you the details of an investigation before it has come to an end, particularly because it involves security which at these games is incredibly important. I am sure you appreciate we need to maintain the security of our systems."

"At the moment we are making sure our systems are secure, which they are, so discussing details of it is not helpful."

"This is normal practice," Adams insisted. "You will understand that maintaining secure operations is our focus. That's the focus of any organisation that has been hit by such a thing. And in line with best practice, which is industry practice, we are not going to comment on the issue because it is an issue we are dealing with."

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Adams later added that the IOC has not identified the attacker and would not name them at a press conference, but promised a "full report" into the incident. He would not commit to making it public.

As North Korea has made peaceful overtures towards the South ahead of the games, it's thought to be unlikely it's behind whatever attack hit the Games' website.

The North has, however, assaulted the world with a 200-plus troupe of cheerleaders that performs choreographed song and dance routines in the stands at the games. The troupe is going a bit viral, a demonstration of the North's ability to distribute propaganda about its capabilities. See below... ®

Updated to add

Cisco's Talos team has found and studied the malware used to attack this year's Winter Olympics computer systems. This software nasty is possibly of Chinese origin, according to Intezer Labs. The malware appears to be tailored for the Pyeongchang 2018 event, infects machines via an as-yet unknown infection vector, steals passwords from the Windows Registry and web browsers, traverses the networking, and then starts deleting files and preventing them from being recovered. Malicious, to say the least.

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