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February 07, 2014

Update: Hackers Aren't Attacking Sochi Visitors' Electronics

Earlier this week I wrote about, as so many others did, the fact that according to NBC Russian hackers are attacking Olympic visitors’ computers and phones the instant they turn them on. It appears that according to Errata Security, the NBC store may not be all that true.

Errata Security is listed as a team of dedicated security researchers that practice offensive security. Toward this end, they have released a story entitled, “That NBC story 100 percent fraudulent.” According to Errata Security, the story was fabricated. It claims that the actual technical details concern visiting certain Olympic websites and not actually visiting Russia.

The following is taken from Errata Security’s article:

  • The story shows Richard Engel "getting hacked" while in a cafe in Russia. It is wrong in every salient detail.
  • They aren't in Sochi, but in Moscow, 1007 miles away.
  • The "hack" happens because of the websites they visit (Olympic themed websites), not their physical location. The results would've been the same in America.
  • The phone didn't "get" hacked; Richard Engel initiated the download of a hostile Android app onto his phone.

So this means that you can get hacked regardless of where you are. It is not being in Russia that is the problem. And, as Errata Security says, “The hacking in the story was due to the hostility of Olympic themed websites.” Of course, this makes the situation even worse.

You just have to know, that a great number of people are going to be checking on Olympic results through their mobile devices throughout the day. They may watch it on TV at night, but most likely there will be a lot of Web surfing to check out the day’s results.

If Errata Security’s account is correct, then this means that everyone around the world is in danger of getting hacked. To make sure that I stay on track here, I want to add that according to Errata Security, “I gleaned these details from Kyle Wilhoit, the expert quoted in the story, and his Twitter feed. He's working on a blog with the full technical details.”

I guess that the only logical advice to give, is that if you are going to browse the various websites to check on your favorite athletes and how they are doing in the Olympics, make sure that you have the latest updates on all of your security options for all of your devices.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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