Top Tips to Keep Data Safe During the 2024 Paris Olympics

By Krishna Vishnubhotla, Vice President, Zimperium [ Join Cybersecurity Insiders ]
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It’s no secret that the Olympics is one of the most highly attended events in the world. This year, it is expected that the Olympics will bring over 15 million visitors to Paris. With such a heavy influx of people, protecting the event from both physical and cyber-attacks is a massive but vital undertaking. This year, it’s safe to say that the spotlight will be on mobile devices as they are our first choice for how we communicate, work, bank, take photos, navigate, shop and stay informed. This year, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with mobile devices as bad actors will have them high on their hit list. In fact, according to Zimperium’s Global Mobile Threat Report 2023 , 43% of all compromised devices were fully exploited (not jailbroken or rooted), an increase of 187% year-over-year. What’s more, the CISO for the Paris Olympics 2024 has announced that the number of attacks is expected to be eight to ten times higher than it was for the Tokyo Olympics. This piece will explore those risks and give insights on how to prepare for them.

Don’t fall prey to risky QR codes

Mobile devices are a main avenue in which today’s cybercriminals are launching highly evasive attacks. In the last few years, QR codes have risen in popularity because of their ease and swift ability to share information by simply scanning a mobile phone’s camera. They will undoubtedly have a heavy presence at this year’s Paris Olympic Games (i.e. scanning codes via your personal TV, downloading Olympic related apps) and it is important to know that a QR code is just like a URL but worse, as you can’t see the real URL you really visiting prior to scanning it. So it’s really important to ensure you know where the QR code is actually taking you.

Make sure you don’t fall victim to malware by clicking on QR codes with malicious links that require you to download an application. Download the application from a trusted app store instead of following an opaque link to download an app from a third-party app store or an unknown source. We expect to see many fake apps centered around the Olympics. In fact, more than 200 fraudulent sites selling tickets for sporting events have already been detected by French police in recent months, and the French government has announced that it has fallen victim to cyberattacks of “unprecedented intensity.”

Malicious Data Collection

With millions of people traveling to Paris this summer for the Olympic games, bad actors are preparing themselves to attack on all fronts, one of which is through guest Wi-Fi networks that can easily be corrupted i.e. public networks at the games, local coffee shops, airports etc. To all individuals who think logging into public Wi-Fi networks is safe, you better think twice. Bad actors can easily create open Wi-Fi hotspots disguised as legitimate and free networks, which, if connected to, compromise devices and install dangerous malware. To make matters worse, bad actors can also use these tactics to launch Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks, where attackers interrupt an existing conversation or data transfer to steal account details, credit card numbers and login credentials. Once an unsuspecting user connects to the free, malicious Wi-Fi hotspot that the attacker created, the bad actor has full visibility into the exchange. The last thing anyone wants to have to spend time on while trying to enjoy the games is having to spend precious time on the phone with banks and credit card companies notifying them of nefarious activity.  If you must use a public Wi-Fi network, consider using a VPN for an added layer of protection and be sure you’re transacting with SSL/TLS protected web sites.

The CISO for the Paris Olympics 2024 has announced that the number of attacks is expected to be eight to ten times higher than what we saw occur at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With an event of this magnitude, the French authorities are working around the clock to prepare for possible cyberattacks and nefarious activity. The Comité d’organisation Paris24 (Organising Committee for Paris24 is taking great precaution to ensure the games go as smoothly as possible. France will not be exempt from attempts to destabilize the country through computer / mobile device sabotage. According to the French Cybersecurity Agency (ANSSI), attackers may be encouraged to penetrate and maintain a position on critical networks amidst ongoing international tensions and turmoil. This is a prevalent reason why ANSSI is calling on organizations to be better equipped and follow cyber protection recommendations such as creating a strong security strategy tailored to this event, developing detection capabilities, implementing an information system backup strategy, and drawing up recovery plans.

The biggest takeaway here is that in a mobile-powered world, a mobile-first security strategy is vital. Mobile devices and apps are an integral part of some of the largest events and organizations in the world. It is essential to establish advanced, adaptive protections that safeguard against unsafe devices, unsafe networks, phishing, and malware attacks that can destabilize networks and put millions of users at risk. Establishing these protections must become the new norm for business leaders.

Bio:

Krishna Vishnubhotla is a seasoned professional in the SaaS industry, specializing in catalyzing startup growth through adept product and marketing strategies. With a keen focus on mobile application security products, he has a proven track record in defining and executing product visions that drive significant revenue growth. In addition to managing a global customer success portfolio, he established high-value strategic partnerships. His leadership skills extend to spearheading revenue generation efforts, serving a diverse clientele across multiple industries.

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