US Third Place figure skating team. Image courtesy U.S. Department of Defense
Think for a moment — what’s the last place you would expect a cybercriminal to target? Did you guess the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang? No? We didn’t either.

Spear phishing for big guys and data

Turns out, cybercriminals are using Olympic bigwigs as targets for several phishing attacks aimed at groups involved with the games. The phishing emails contain malicious Word documents — so malicious, that if successful would give the attacker the ability to execute commands on the victim’s computer and the ability to install additional malware. Scary stuff.

The first phishing email, received on December 22, was addressed to with other supporting Olympic organizations blind CC’d. While the email appeared to have come from the South Korean National Counter-Terrorism Center, the IP address was in Singapore. Even worse, the victim had every right to believe the email and its attachments were important because the South Korean CTC was running counter-terrorism drills for the Olympics at that time.

This is an example of spear phishing at its finest. An email from a “trusted” source is sent to a specific individual, organization, or business intended to steal data or install malware on the target’s computer. In the case of the Olympic spear phishers, they’re targeting people on the outer edge of the games, bombarding them with the kind of emails they are likely to open.

Who knows what they’re looking for — data, money, information, the list can go on forever. The point here is that anyone can be a target, from bigwig execs and CEOs to the smaller, structural leaders lower on the ladder. But why are we telling you this? Chances are you aren’t working with the Olympics right now, correct?

How Olympic phishing could affect you

This kind of phishing attack goes beyond the games itself, what if one of these victims fell for the scam and sensitive data in their care was exposed?

What if information is being spread by the cybercriminals under the guise of the Olympic professional? If you want anything to do with the 2018 Winter Olympics, be mindful of what you see. Be wary of any unsolicited offers for tickets, merchandise, or streaming services especially, as many illegal streaming services remain popular and tend to be registered under trustworthy domains or addresses.

Thomas Duffy, chair of the Center for Internet Security (CIS), recently published a warning, excerpted below:

You can start protecting yourself by being careful what websites you visit and emails you open. As with any high-profile event, it’s always safest to get your news from websites you already know and trust. When you get that email with the link to the video you just have to see or the fascinating story of the amazing win, remember to Hover to Discover. This means to hover your mouse over the link and see where the link is really sending you. If you don’t recognize the website, don’t click on the link. Instead, go to the official Olympics website or another online website that you trust and look for the video or news there.

For more information about scams expected to target individuals like you, view this Feb. 5 report from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MSISAC) about the fraudulent digital traffic expected before and during the Olympics.

Stay safe and have fun watching the athletes compete — don’t become a victim just because you wanted to watch someone wipe out down the side of a mountain or land a quadruple Axel. And, as always

Think B4 U Click!