With thousands of athletes, officials and spectators descending on Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympic Games, that’s a lot of laptops, tablets and mobile devices. And a tempting target for cyber criminals, and even government snoops.
Media reports have raised IT security concerns around the Sochi Games. While the initial reports may have been torqued, at the very least anyone visiting Sochi would be well-advised to take some precautions when it comes to their cyber safety and cyber security.
Along with technology companies such as Avaya and Microsoft, Russian security vendor Kaspersky Lab is an official supplier to the Sochi games. According to the vendor, it’s one of a number of companies providing information security to the games. It has provided Kaspersky Total Space Security Protection licenses for workstations, mobile devices, file and mail servers, collaboration servers and Internet gateways, and Kaspersky threat specialists are providing continuous monitoring during the games to ensure early detection and monitoring of any emerging threats.
In an interview last week at Kaspersky North America’s annual partner conference, Steve Orenberg, president of Kaspersky North America, said any time you have hundreds of thousands or even millions of people gathered in one place, particularly for a high profile event such as the Olympic Games, there’s going to be the potential for cyber threats, and if you doesn’t take the proper precautions you will get hacked.
“You’re no more or less exposed (at Sochi) than if you go to a football stadium with 80,000 at a game or an F1 race with 250,000 people on a race day,” said Orenberg. “It’s more newsworthy but the message (around security) really hasn’t changed.”
Were he going to Sochi, Orenberg said he would take the same security precautions he always does, such as accessing work files through a secure virtual private network (VPN), and wouldn’t take any extra steps.
Kaspersky has published a number of cybersecurity tips for Olympic visitors, including keeping your anti-malware solution constantly updated, using extra caution when using public Wi-Fi networks and avoid using unprotected networks, using a protected VPN connection of software solution with a safe payment option when using online payment or banking services over a public Wi-Fi network, and not falling for Olympic-themed spam messages.
Michael Knight, CTO of Encore Technology Group, a Kaspersky reseller, said staying secure at an event like Sochi or other major events can be challenging, because at the end of the day, you do need to connect through some form of mass communications – most people don’t have satellite Internet.
“You need to do basic things, like if you’re walking around with your iPad, don’t enable wireless unless you know where you’re connecting. Disable Bluetooth. Don’t let equipment out of your control, and just employ common-sense principles,” said Knight. “If you can find a hardline connection that’s obviously better, but you’re still connecting to a main junction point that could be compromised.”
He added it’s critical to have encryption on your devices and recommends using secure VPN connectivity, even if it’s just surfing the web back through your home office.