Cybersecurity insiders warn of US attacks ahead of Beijing Winter Olympics

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Photo:VCG

Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Photo:VCG

Cybersecurity insiders warned of cyberattacks from the US days ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, and urged the US to act responsibly as a world power, after Russia revealed the US and its allies have launched a massive anti-China campaign to interfere with the Games. 

Russia possesses information that the US and some of its allies have launched a campaign against the Games in Beijing, Russian News Agency TASS quoted Sergey Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, as saying. 

“I must say that we have quite a lot of information about the massive campaign of aggressive and malicious interference in the preparations for the Beijing Olympics launched by the US and its most odious and obedient allies… the US Department of State plays a major role in this crusade,” Naryshkin said. 

Launching an anti-China campaign prior to the Games is in line with the strategy of the US to besiege China together with its allies, Qin An, head of the Beijing-based Institute of China Cyberspace Strategy, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Cyberattacks are most likely to be adopted by the US targeting the Olympics, sustaining its old tricks. The US always hypes China’s so-called cyber threats and stigmatizes China, so as to conceal the fact that the US is the world’s largest cyber attacker, Qin said.

Qin said at the same time, the US and its allies that engage in anti-China campaign would stir up public opinions using media that favor their interests to discredit China’s ability to hold the international sports fest through spreading rumors.

“The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is a sports event that is anticipated by people from all walks of life, including sports fans and those in politics and the media around the world. Any acts that disturb and besiege the event go against the will of the world, and also tarnish the reputation of being the world’s most powerful country,” Qin noted. 

Wan Xiaowei, a Beijing-based expert from the 360 Enterprise Security Group, told the Global Times that the Games in Beijing this time are very likely to draw a watchful eye from malicious attackers, including political hackers and civic hackers. 

Such methods as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), ransomware attacks, social engineering and phishing would be utilized to launch the attacks, for economic or political gains or to spread malicious information.

Besides websites, apps that could be targeted by hackers, power systems and infrastructure facilities are also on their attack agendas, Qin noted.

If security attacks happen during the Games, there would be wide and devastating consequences, Wan warned, saying that political hackers may use DDoS to attack key systems, resulting in paralysis, or attempt to obtain the rights of the live broadcasting platforms to spread malicious information.

Hackers aiming to profit will use virus Trojans to extort money, Wan said.

All-round protection of the Games should be imposed, including its official website, power grids of sports venues and livestreaming systems, experts from the 360 Enterprise Security Group suggested. 

According to a prediction from experts at Digital World Consulting, a Beijing-based consulting company specializing in the cybersecurity industry, as the Beijing 2022 does not sell tickets to foreign audiences, which will make demand for live broadcasts of events in other parts of the world very prominent, it is reasonable to estimate that at least 500 million cyberattacks are likely to happen during the Games.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics saw around 450 million attempted cyberattacks when the events were held in the summer of 2021, Japan-based Kyodo News reported in October 2021. 

The London 2012 Olympics saw the highest number of confirmed cyberattacks on record, with the official website alone targeted around 200 million times, and attacks on all related organizations totaling around 2.3 billion, according to the report.