Kaspersky flags up Olympic cyber security threats


Anti-virus software vendor Kaspersky has warned end users to be on their guard against cyber criminals using the Olympics to launch phishing scams and DDoS attacks.

The vendor's words of warning comes several days after Jonathan Evans, MI5's director general, said this summer's London Olympics could prove an attractive target for terrorists groups.

We could see hackers target systems directly connected to the games.

Speaking to IT Pro, David Emm, senior regional research at Kaspersky, said end users might also find themselves under siege from cyber criminals attempting to cash-in on the event.

"One of the dangers is people being lured by mistake to an illegitimate site set up by someone who wants to profit from the event by pretending to sell items, like merchandise or tickets, that they are not authorised to," he explained.

"This could result in people giving up their personal information or surrendering a sum of money and being defrauded by scammers."

This is a problem that may have been exacerbated by the ticket selling process the organisers have used, offered Emm.

"Tickets have become available in stages and sponsors have had them to giveaway, whereas if they were all sold at once it might be easier to say the tickets that are appearing on sale after a certain date are unlikely to be genuine," he said.

With BT ramping up the number of Wi-Fi hotspots and London Underground rolling out similar services at selected tube stations across the capital for the Olympics, Emm said end users should use these public connections with caution.

"There are going to be lots of people in the capital wanting to update Twitter and Facebook, access news sites and, possibly, shift money around between bank accounts to free up money for their trip," he said.

"They should be wary about what connections they use to do this. It may not be an illegitimate Wi-Fi network set up by a crook, but it might be a publicly available one that someone can intercept the traffic of."

The organiser's websites might also become a target for hackers that decide to seize on the Olympics to carry out a high-profile Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, he added.

"We could also see hackers targeting systems directly connected to the games, such as the mechanisms responsible for timing [the athletes]," Emm explained.

"I cannot comment on how easy that would be, but it will undoubtedly be something the Government will be going to great pains to avoid."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.