Attack Takes Down Pyeongchang Games Web Systems

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +

The website of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics was disabled for about 12 hours after a cyberattack that affected ‘non-critical’ servers

The organisers of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea said over the weekend the games were affected by a cyberattack during the opening ceremony on Friday, but didn’t identify the source.

On Saturday the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic & Paralympic Games (POCOG) said the attack the previous day had disrupted the functioning of the internet protocol televisions in the main press centre.

The affected servers were shut down as a preventative measure, which in turn rendered the Pyeongchang 2018 website inaccessible. As a result, spectators were unable to print tickets or view games information.

The website was brought back online around 8 a.m. on Saturday, the committee said. The site was down for a total of about 12 hours, according to reports.

winter olympics skater skating © Herbert Kratky Shutterstock

Compromise not ‘critical’

The International Olympic Committee said at a Sunday press event that the attack hadn’t compromised critical systems.

Sung Baik-you, a spokesman for the organising committee, indicated the source of the attack was known but said POCOG wouldn’t discuss details while its investigation was ongoing.

“We know the cause of the problem but that kind of issue occurs frequently during the Games,” he told reporters. “We decided with the IOC we are not going to reveal the source (of the attack).”

IOC head of communications Mark Adams said a specific attacker had not been identified and wouldn’t be named at a press conference.

South Korea has regularly been targeted by cyberattacks that appear to have originated in North Korea, with which the country has technically remained at war since 1953.

But both countries have been using the Winter Olympics as an occasion to renew their diplomatic links, with teams made up of players from both sides competing in the games.

Diplomacy

During the games’ opening ceremony teams from North and South Korea marched alongside one another for the first time since 2006.

Pyeongchang Olympics organisations were targeted by a malware attack beginning in December that installed information-gathering tools on targets’ systems, according to computer security firm McAfee.

The espionage efforts are part of broader hacking activity around Pyeongchang that has also seen an apparently Russia-linked hacker group publicly release documents stolen from Olympics organisations.

McAfee and other security firms have said they expect hacking activity to continue throughout the games, which conclude on 25 February.

How well do you know the cloud? Try our quiz!