NEWS & ANALYSIS

FBI Tells U.S. Athletes to Use Burner Phones at Beijing Olympics Due to Cyber Intrusion Threat


The FBI is telling U.S. Olympic athletes competing in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to leave their personal phones at home, and instead use burner phones.

“The FBI urges all athletes to keep their personal cell phones at home and use a temporary phone while at the Games. While there were no major cyber disruptions, the most popular attack methods used were malware, email spoofing, phishing and the use of fake websites and streaming services designed to look like official Olympic service providers,” a memo from the bureau reads, per Just the News. 

“These activities include distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, malware, social engineering, data theft or leaks, phishing campaigns, disinformation campaigns, or insider threats, and when successful, can block or disrupt the live broadcast of the event, steal or leak sensitive data, or impact public or private digital infrastructure supporting the Olympics,” the memo continued.

At the recent games held in Tokyo, the FBI said more than 450 million attempted cyber-related incidents occurred, though “none were successful due to cybersecurity measures in place.” 

The bureau warned that the use of digital wallets to hold things like COVID-19 vaccine cards could heighten the chances of cyber actors stealing personal information and installing malware on athletes’ devices.

“The download and use of applications, including those required to participate or stay in country, could increase the opportunity for cyber actors to steal personal information or install tracking tools, malicious code, or malware,” the memo reads.