The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang were hit by a cyber-attack during the opening ceremony on February 9th. It is alleged that Russian military spies were behind the attack according to United States intelligence.
Two U.S. officials who were investigating the matter had stated that the attack was staged to put blame on North Korea. The “false-flag” operation comes at a sensitive time for all nations due to the tension between North Korea and the rest of the world.
The attack during the opening ceremony had caused disruptions to broadcast systems, their internet connection and the website for the Winter Olympics. From the attack, many people who were intending to attend the ceremony couldn’t print their tickets which left many seats empty. At the time the officials in PyeongChang were hesitant to put the blame on Russia immediately.
However the attack comes after Russia was denied access to the Winter Olympics due to their doping scandal. Any athletes from Russia who were planning on attending had to do so as an independent. If they were victorious in receiving any medals their national anthem would not be played and their uniforms were stripped of any flags. It seems that the attack was a form of retaliation from the Russian public.
The Russian military agency GRU had access to several hundreds of computers that were related to Olympics operations as of early February. Many private-sector analysts commented saying that the intelligence is correct with many of them noticing signs that Russia had targeted the ceremony. This isn’t a one off case either; this type of behaviour from Russia is consistent with them trying to interfere with the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Games.
Many U.S. officials are worried that the Russians will act again and try to disrupt the closing ceremony. They stated that they will be watching the procedures closely but at the end of the day it’s not their area to act upon and is ultimately up to the Koreans. The U.S. officials also noted that they would aid in anything they can if they are requested to do so.
On top of the access to the computers, GRU operators also have been reported to hack routers in South Korea last month and installed malware during the day that Olympics started. The type of malware that was implemented could be used to collect information and commence network attacks. At this current time, officials are unaware if the attack on the opening ceremony resulted from this access.
GRU have bene known to work in retaliation before where they had access to drug test results and medical data that is confidential belonging to many athletes that participated in the 2016 Summer Games. They posted the information of many different American athletes after the majority of Russia’s track and field team was banned.