The Olympics have always been a geopolitical microcosm: beyond the athletic match-ups, they ply a vehicle for diplomacy and propaganda, and even, rarely, a proxy for crusade. It stands to reasonablenes, then, that in 2018 they’ve also become a nexus of hacker skullduggery. The Olympics uncovering next week in Pyeongchang may already be the most thoroughly hacked in video games’ history–with potentially more surprises to come.
More so than any previous Olympics, the run-up to Pyeongchang has been blighted by apparent state-sponsored intruders: One Russia-linked campaign has stolen and disclosed humiliating documents from Olympic organisations, while protection researchers have tracked another enterprise, perhaps North Korean, which seems to be spying on South Korean Olympics-related organizations.
Security investigates tracking those two operations say the full scope of either remains far from clear, leaving the looming question of whether they could still present new disruptions period to unfold during the games themselves. And more widely, the intrusions signal that the geopolitical strains that have all along been stressed the Olympics now widen into the digital realm as well.
“The Olympics have always been the most politicized boasting happening of them all, ” says Thomas Rid, a professor of tactical analyses at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Survey. “It’s not a stun at all that they’ve become a high-profile target for hacking.”
The far stealthier of the two known Olympics hacking operations–and perhaps the most troubling–has calmly targeted South Korean Olympics-related make-ups for well over a few months. Researchers for security firm McAfee detected this very week that awareness-raising campaigns, which they’ve identified Operation GoldDragon, am trying to flower three distinct spyware tools on target machines that is conducive to intruders to deeply scours the compromised computers’ materials. McAfee relates those malicious tools by the names GoldDragon, BravePrince, and GHOST4 19.