~~The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia are in the final stretch. In just a few days, athletes from around the world will be completing their competitions, attending the closing ceremonies, and heading home. But in the meantime, smart phones, computers and tablets in Sochi have been under near constant attack from hackers since before the games began. As NBC Nightly News reported on February 4th, when athletes, support teams, volunteers, reporters, and spectators began arriving in Sochi, Russia in preparation for the games, they found their electronic devices were quickly threatened.
Most people turn on their cell phones when they get off the airplane upon arriving in a new place. When they get to their hotel, they usually fire-up their laptops or tablets. It seems like a very natural thing to do these days, especially when you want to let loved ones and colleagues know you have arrived safely and catch up on any correspondence you might have missed. But as several news stories have warned, hackers are taking advantage of the huge influx of unwitting Olympic visitors to Sochi to gain as much personal information or other sensitive data from the devices that came into the country with their owners. Phones may be tapped wirelessly and hackers can listen into your conversations, and in many cases smart phones automatically downloaded malware that left it open to other types of cyber attacks. The information gleaned by hackers about visitors then might be used by that hacker for theft, or sold to other criminal enterprises for the purposes of identity theft, or even completely hijack a visitors’ computer, tablet or phone to carry out criminal activities.
News sources reporting on the wide-spread hacking in Sochi are reporting that travelers are advised to have no expectation of privacy when they arrive in Sochi. These sources also recommended that travelers remove all sensitive data from smart phones, tablets and computers before leaving home, avoid the public wifi, not use their devices at all, or just leave them at home. Another option might be to buy a new disposable phone once you arrive at your destination for use only in that location.
Whether you traveled to Sochi to enjoy the Winter Olympics, or you are an armchair warrior watching from home, it’s smart to think ahead about computer security here at home and for when you travel. As the example from the Sochi Winter Olympics illustrates, traveling has taken on a new dimension in terms of computer safety and security. At TRA Consulting, let us handle the headache for you. We can advise you on the best way to keep your devices safe for your next business trip or vacation. If you have recently returned from travels, we can help with virus removal and protect your computer, tablet, or phone from future threats. We are serving the Long Beach and Greater Los Angeles areas with computer solutions, training, consulting, and virus removal for individuals, small, and medium-sized businesses