The Sideshow

Hacked in Sochi in minutes: Russian cyberspace full of risks

In report, NBC News' Richard Engel 'baited the hook' for hackers, who quickly bit

 

Privacy in all forms is a very rare commodity at the Sochi Olympics, according to a report from NBC News.

Athletes, journalists and fans are reportedly seeing their cell phones, computers and tablets hacked. The report, by NBC News' Richard Engel, demonstrates how quickly the hackings occur.

In an experiment conducted with the help of an American computer security expert, Engel created a fake online identity with fake contact lists, phony names and addresses. It's called baiting the hook.

In Russia, the pair fired up two new laptop computers loaded with Engel's fake profile to see how long it would take hackers to do their business.

They didn't have to wait long — in less than a minute, Engel received what appeared to be a custom email welcoming him to Sochi and asking him to click on a link for information he might find useful. After clicking, Engel said, his computer was "hijacked."

It was the same scenario with Engel's cell phone. "Malicious software hijacked our phone before we even finished our coffee, stealing my information and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls," Engel said.

For those traveling to Sochi for the Games, Engel recommends not bringing phones or laptops if at all possible. If you can't be without a connection, delete any sensitive information from devices before logging on. And as with "phishing" scams, don't click on anything in an email or a Web page that takes you to an external link, as Web sites that appear to belong to banks or other "secure" third parties can be easily faked.

Hackers who hail from Russia are known to be among the world's most skilled. The 2013 hacks of retailers Target and Neiman Marcus were traced back to a Russian teenager. However, according to Bloomberg, "China accounted for 41 percent of the world's attack traffic" during the fourth quarter of 2012.

For more on the security surrounding the Sochi Olympics, check out this report from Yahoo Sports.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz). 

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