Hacked!

Visitors to Sochi Olympics Will Be Instantly Hacked

So much for our plans of #SmizingInSochi

Richard Engel watches as his phone gets totally owned. (YouTube)

Richard Engel watches as his phone gets totally owned. (YouTube)

Proving yet again what a fabulous idea it was to stage the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, NBC has discovered that all the Games’ attendees can expect to immediately get hacked as soon as they get to Sochi.

“The State Department warned that travelers should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms,” NBC’s Richard Engel said in a report on Brian Williams’s show last night. “And as we found out, you are especially exposed as soon as you try to communicate with anything.” 

According to Mr. Engel, hackers are waiting stealthily on the sidelines to break into your devices as soon as you log on to the Internet (and let’s face it—what the hell else are you going to do after a 75-hour-long flight to southern Russia?)

To illustrate his point, Mr. Engel brought two new laptops to Sochi. With the help of an American security expert, he uploaded a fake identity and fake contact list onto the computers—both were hacked within the day. “It had taken hackers less than one minute to pounce,” he said, “Within 24 hours, they’d broken into both computers and started helping themselves to my data.”

Mr. Engel also conducted an experiment wherein he took a new smartphone to a restaurant, and started browsing the Internet for Olympics news. “Malicious software hijacked our phone before we even finished our coffee, stealing my information, and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls.” he said.

A computer security company called Kaspersky Labs is apparently responsible for upholding security at the Games, but they said because visitors are brining so many gosh darn devices to Sochi, hackers can still pretty much go to town. Sounds like that whole initiative is working out according to plan.

Mr. Engel concludes by describing the cybersecurity environment as a “minefield,” and suggests that the best way to protect your data is to leave your devices at home.

But then how would we get a selfie with the freaking adorable U.S. Men’s Curling Team?

Follow Jordyn Taylor on Twitter or via RSS. jtaylor@observer.com