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Security expert calls out NBC’s whiny report on Sochi Olympics hacking

Published Feb 7th, 2014 7:30PM EST
Sochi Internet Hacking

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A security expert is calling “fraudulent” a recent NBC News story about computer hacking at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, CNET reports, after discovering certain inconsistencies with NBC reporter Richard Engel’s story. Robert Graham from Errata Security said NBC’s warning that “if you bring your mobile phone or laptop to the Sochi Olympics, it’ll immediately be hacked the moment you turn it on,” was fraudulent, as it suggested that athletes and their families will be almost certainly hacked when connecting their devices to local Wi-Fi networks when arriving in Sochi.

Graham revealed that Engel was actually “getting hacked” in a café in Moscow, not Sochi, and his devices were hacked because they were accessing fraudulent Winter Olympics websites set up by hackers, not because they simply connected to a wireless network. The result would have been the same when visiting the same sites from America, or any other region that’s connected to the Internet.

However, he admitted that when browsing for Olympics-related stuff in Russia, Internet users are likely to get more local sites, including hacker-owned ones, due to geolocation features.

Furthermore, Graham added that the Android phone Engel used to prove his point was not hacked, but instead the NBC News reporter downloaded a malware Android application.

“Thus, the claim of the story that you’ll get hacked immediately upon turning on your computers is fraudulent, Graham wrote. “The only thing that can be confirmed by the story is “’don’t let Richard Engel borrow your phone.’”

Graham advised anyone visiting Sochi not to click on stuff that doesn’t look legitimate, patch software including browsers, Flash and PDF and “get rid of the bad stuff” such as Java. Furthermore he said that while in Sochi, users should connect via VPN over the public Wi-Fi.

The original Engel report follows below.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.