Now more than ever before, hackers are looking to international events like the Olympics and the World Cup as prime targets to test out their latest creations. By utilizing the massive networks, haberdashed infrastructure, and millions of tourists as a test dummy proving ground, they’re able to spread their viruses significantly faster than if they went about it in a classical fashion.
Because of the international nature of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, you have people coming from all over the world to congregate in a single location, which essentially acts as an unintentional honeypot for anyone who wants to send you and your computer home with their special version of a going away present. After the games, the millions of devices attached to the people who own them make their flights back home, and it’s here that the genius of cracking the Wi-Fi networks of a temporary Olympic city starts to show. Once infected, these devices act as Patient Zeroes for their respective regions, helping the virus travel much further over thousands of miles without the need to hop from router to router along the way. From here the botnets proliferate by instinct, sniffing out their nearest neighbor and setting up a mesh night that can encompass a majority of the globe, and often sell on the black market for millions of dollars a pop.
Even the airport itself could be used as an unrestricted playground for hackers. Russia has already had a number of infamous hacking cases as one of the world’s top suppliers of malware, viruses, and skilled blackhat hackers. The state has lagged behind other countries like the US and UK when it comes to tracking what users are up to in their country. With this in mind, we’ve seen a rise in the number of hackers active online.
Last year, researchers at Lookout Security discovered that only 10 professionally managed malware distributors were responsible of 30 percent of all mobile infections in the world, several of which are thought to be owned and operated by members of the Russian mafia.
The recent Target breach is the most noticeable example of this trend, with Sergey Taraspov, a 17-year old high school student from St. Petersburg, selling the BlackPOS malware to customers abroad who wanted to find their way into Target cash registers and credit card machines in the US.