With 500,000 expected tourists and 10,500 athletes from all around the world set to descend on Rio for the upcoming summer Olympics, Zika and petty theft are not the only threats visitors will face.
While there will be at least 85,000 security professionals providing physical security—almost double the amount at the 2012 London Games—all the police in the world will not stop a cybercriminal from stealing your credit card or other personal information.
The Olympic Games, like any other major event, will be a huge magnet for cybercriminals. What is the cyber threat, and which issues pose a serious threat to visitors of the Rio games? What precautions should a tourist visiting Rio take to avoid getting hacked?
Unfortunately, Brazil doesn’t have a good cybersecurity record. A recent report from BitSight Technologies finds that Brazilian companies are among the worst in the developed world in security performance and cyber security. In 2014, Brazil was actually ranked number one as the most dangerous country for financial cyberattacks.
With lax Brazilian cyber laws, cybercrime is also on the rise. This problem is only compounded by advances in technology—more tablets and smartphones than ever are used in Brazil for emailing, online banking, browsing websites, posting on social networks, and storing sensitive business data.
Once the Games begin, thousands of unsuspecting visitors will connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks at sporting venues, airports, hotels and coffee shops, making themselves easy prey for hackers.
Hackers will also target visitors through bogus ticket-selling websites, ransomware attacks that prevent victims from accessing their data until a ransom is paid, or phishing emails, such as fake Olympic lottery win notices that prompt victims to provide personal information to receive prize tickets.
What can those headed down to Rio this August do to avoid getting hacked? The best way to stay cyber-safe is to make yourself less of a target.
Here are a few basic tips to help you stay safe during the Games:
1. Avoid public Wi-Fi like you would mosquitos.
Whether in Rio or anywhere else, it is never a good idea to connect to unprotected Wi-Fi networks. A litany of dangers exists for those who do, including redirection to phony webpages and interception of sensitive data. When away from a network you know and trust, be sure to switch off your Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections on all of your devices.
2. Take special care of your most prized information.
Personal and financial data are always the most at risk, primarily because they are the most lucrative to black marketers. Turn off automatic sign-ins to bank accounts, as well as general auto-form fill settings.
3. Strengthen your personal security with two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication greatly strengthens security by adding an extra layer of protection in the event your passwords are stolen. Unless both your password and an additional key of your choice are both entered, no one will be getting into any of your accounts.
4. Gear up against world-class bank thieves.
Being held up at gunpoint is not the only way to be robbed blind in Rio. Tech-savvy thieves regularly use phony ATM machines to clone debit cards and even employ thermal imaging scanners to read your fingerprints off of ATM swipe screens and pin pads. Get into the habit of wiping off your fingerprints after each ATM transaction and only using ATMs inside trustworthy venues like banks, hotels and government buildings. To protect your credit cards from being scanned from afar, invest in inexpensive RFID protection sleeves.
5. If you can, drop a weight class and leave your computer at home.
The best way to minimize your chance of being hacked is to limit the possible points of entry a hacker can target. If you have no computer and stay offline, your risk will be drastically reduced.
With personal computing devices and internet access so easily accessible, abandoning technology for an entire week or two is probably unfathomable for most. So, if you do bring a computer, be aware of the data you are storing on it. If you have hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive personal or business data on your computer, stop. You should not bring that with you.
Consider traveling with a “fun-use-only” device, such as a tablet instead. For the duration of your trip, be sure to never leave any device(s) unattended or allow anyone you don’t trust to use it.
Ultimately, staying safe comes down to using common sense. Being aware of where your possessions are, using only trusted connections, and being careful when accessing sensitive data should be enough to guarantee an enjoyable Olympic experience.
About the Author: Tom Boyden is a Managing Director of GRA Quantum. Operating from the Silicon Valley office, he develops partnerships with pioneering technology firms and cultivates relationships with his fellow corporate information security and technology officers.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.