It has now been confirmed that the 2018 Winter Olympics was the subject of a cyberattack. On Sunday, game organizers verified rumors that the Olympics were hacked during Friday’s opening ceremony. However, the source of the attack has yet to be revealed. While systems including the internet and television services were affected on Friday evening, organizers assured media that the breach “had not compromised any critical part of their operations,” according to a Reuters report.
Cybersecurity experts noted in January that there were early suggestions that Russia-backed attackers may have been planning a hack as a retaliation against the nation’s ban from the Pyeongchang Games. The Russian federation has not been allowed to compete as a result of anti-doping regulations (though Russian athletes have been taking part of the games as the Olympic Athletes from Russia, or OAR).
That said, Russia has fervently denied any suggestion of hacking. A few days before the Olympics began, the government noted that any claims linking Russian operatives to hacks on Pyeongchang were “unfounded.”
North Korea may also serve as a prime suspect, given the games’ proximity to the long-isolated nation. However, the North Korean team marched alongside the South Korean delegation for the first time at an Olympics opening ceremony since 2006, perhaps as a symbolic olive branch.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), for its part, is staying mum on the issue. “Maintaining secure operations is our purpose,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. “We are not going to comment on the issue. It is one we are dealing with. We are making sure our systems are secure and they are secure.”
Adams added that while he did not know who was behind the attack, “… best international practice says that you don’t talk about an attack.”
Luckily, it would appear that the hack was short-lived and quickly addressed. “All issues were resolved and recovered yesterday morning,” Pyeongchang organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you told press. “We know the cause of the problem but that kind of issues occurs frequently during the Games. We decided with the IOC we are not going to reveal the source (of the attack),” he added.
Still, news of the attack makes a number of sponsors even warier, having already been concerned about the possibility of such an event at the Olympics. A number of sponsors have insured themselves against hacks, and now, it would seem as though that was a very necessary precaution.