Wednesday, April 17, 2024

FBI urges athletes to use burner phones in Beijing

Athletes and visitors heading to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing should leave their phones at home and use temporary ones instead, the FBI has urged.

It comes in a wider warning about how cyber-activities may disrupt the events. Those include ransomware and denial of service attacks, the BBC reports.

But it also cautioned about malware, data theft, and the installation of “tracking tools” on mobile devices.

“The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use a temporary phone while at the Games,” it wrote.

The FBI said it was not aware of “any specific threat” against the Olympics but encouraged partners to “remain vigilant”.

It added that the National Olympic Committees in some western countries were also advising against the use of personal mobile phones. The warning comes after a similar one from cyber-security group Citizen Lab.

Earlier this month, it looked into the official app for the Olympics – which people attending are required to download for COVID health monitoring purposes.

Its report suggested:

  • it was insecure when it came to protecting personal data
  • an encryption flaw enabled a third party to access documents, audio and files
  • it was subject to censorship based on a list of keywords
  • its privacy policy was not clear about who received and processed any data uploaded to it.

China dismissed the concerns.

The games run Feb. 4-20, with around 3,000 athletes competing in 109 events. The Winter Paralympics run March 4-13.

The Chinese government is spending $3.9 billion USD on the Games, which take place in and around Beijing. Human rights groups have called on governments to boycott both, over the treatment of Uyghur people in China.

Some, including the U.K., the U.S., and Canada, have said they will not send government delegates to attend the event.

President Xi has said that China will “spare no effort” to make the Games a success.


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