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Hackers Aim For Gold At Rio Olympics

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Sunday, August 14th, 2016


It’s not just the Olympics participants and sports lovers from across the world who are celebrating the arrival of Rio 2016. Cyber criminals and hackers active in the region are eagerly waiting for the mega sporting event to begin as well, albeit for not so good reasons. With hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors set to arrive in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympics, security experts are warning of a looming security catastrophe that could witness thousands of people getting robbed of their money and/or personal data.

Mobile security firm Skycure recently did a survey of the networking infrastructure within Rio de Janeiro and found some severe vulnerabilities in it. The company reports that criminals have set up fake Wi-Fi hotspots at various locations in order to steal personal and financial information from the arriving foreign visitors. Fake Wi-Fi spots were not only discovered at popular malls like Rio Sul and hotels; they were even found at Rio Galeão Airport where most sports lovers were set to arrive. Multiple security vulnerabilities were also discovered in Rio de Janeiro subway’s Wi-Fi system even though it was installed by the Brazilian government in association with Cisco. What’s worse, many of these free Wi-Fi hotspots were equipped with decryption capabilities meaning that even secure data was open to hacking as soon as people connected to the network. These findings were also concurred by the security firm Kapersky which did an independent survey of Rio’s technical infrastructure in the run up to the Olympics.

Fake Wi-Fi hotspots are not the only threat facing Rio 2016 visitors and sports lovers from around the world. Anticipating the huge surge of interest in the games, criminals have also created fake apps and published them on third party app stores. At first glance, these apps look safe and seem to provide genuine information about Olympics events but security experts warn that they actually contain malicious code designed to steal sensitive data from Smartphone users. Some criminals have even set up fake ticketing and betting services to steal financial data from unsuspecting users. Additionally, hackers are increasingly using emails, social media and official looking websites (with .gov.br domain names) to distribute malware related to Rio 2016.

If you are planning to travel to Rio during the Olympics or have a huge interest in the games, there are several steps that you must take in order to safeguard your personal and financial information. While in Rio, avoid connecting to free Wi-Fi hotspots (especially those having the word “Free” in their names) unless you are 100% sure that it is offered by the hotel, Coffee Shop or the airport authority itself. Secondly, you must avoid downloading Olympics related apps from third party app stores and websites. Also, you must avoid clicking on Rio 2016 links in emails and social media sites no matter what goodies are on offer. Finally, you must secure your Smartphones and laptops with a reputed VPN service so as not to become a victim of hackers prowling at Wi-Fi hotspots. Remember that cybercrime laws are quite lax in Brazil so it up to you to protect your personal and financial information while traveling to Rio de Janeiro for enjoying Olympics games.


August 14, 2016
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