Cyber Attack Disrupts Winter Olympics Website During Opening Ceremony

The Winter Olympics Games Organizing Committee is investigating a cyber attack on the event’s Internet and Wi-Fi system. The attack was carried out 45 minutes before the opening ceremony on Friday night in South Korea.

According to the Committee’s spokeswoman, Nancy Park, the country’s Ministry of Defense and a cybersecurity team is investigating the service disruption of the event. At Around 5 am, organizers reported at a meeting that the reason for the Internet failure of the Olympics Stadium and the Media Center was a cyber attack.

Prior to the event, the organizing committee had already expressed concern and reinforced warnings of possible hacking attacks from Russia as a form of counter-coup following the IOC’s punishment of the country and also of North Korean hackers due to the rivalry between the two nations.

The target of the attack was the Domain Name System (DNS). In a nutshell, it is the servers responsible for translating the addresses that are typed into browsers into the IP addresses that they correspond to. That is, without DNS, the browser of any electronic device can not redirect to a site when it is typed in the tab. Another spokesman for the Committee, Baik You Sung, issued a statement explaining the events during the opening.

“There were some problems that impacted our systems last night for a few hours in a non-critical way. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to all affected. This did not interrupt any events or affect the safety of any spectator or athlete. We will keep you up to date if that changes. Our technology partners and ICT specialists are working to strengthen the maintenance of any system at the expected service levels. We are investigating the causes and will share any information as soon as we can get details. All competitions will go as planned.”

Cyber Attack Disrupts Winter Olympics Website During Opening Ceremony
Security notice from PyeongChang Organizing Committee informing visitors about the website disruption.

Local news agency Yonhap reported that the servers were shut down to prevent damage to the systems, and this has caused problems to the official PyeongChang Games website. Moreover, due to the shutdown of the website, spectators who purchased tickets to 2018 Winter Games events were unable to print their reservations.

Last month, the possibility of hacking attacks was raised by cybersecurity experts at McAfee after identifying a sophisticated malware campaign in which PyeongChang Games officials were targeted with a malicious Word documents aiming at stealing their login credentials.

Image credit: DepositPhotos/Alexeynovikov

Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.