The U.S. government is launching a multimedia campaign Wednesday advising Americans traveling to the August Olympic Games in Rio and other abroad destinations that proprietary information stored on electronic devices is at high risk for security breaches.
USA Today reported that the “Know the Risk; Raise Your Shield” program warns travelers that foreign security services and cyber criminals are increasingly targeting global events and capable of tracking visitor’s movements via their mobile devices, often without the users’ knowledge.
The campaign is aimed at all U.S. citizens traveling abroad, although it specifically focuses on those traveling to the approaching Rio games, which traditionally draw thousands of U.S. visitors.
Bill Evanina, the nation’s chief counter-intelligence executive, is urging travelers to carry “clean’’ devices, free of potentially valuable archives that could be tapped for economic advantage, personal data or security information.
Evanina further explained that the Olympic games and other international events represent a “great playground’’ for government intelligence services and cyber criminals due to the “sheer number of devices’’ present at such events.
“When you travel abroad, assume that your personal information will be breached,’’ Evanina said.
As part of the new awareness campaign, the U.S. government is advising Americans traveling to any abroad destination to take a variety of precautions, including:
- Leave unnecessary devices at home.
- Back up data on devices in use and leave those copies in secure locations at home.
- Change passwords at regular intervals during travel and on return.
- Avoid prolonged sessions on local Wi-Fi networks.
- Submit company devices for examination on return for presence of malware.
This is not the first time the U.S government has voiced security concerns for Americans traveling abroad to Olympic games. Similar advisories were issued in advance of both the 2008 games in Beijing and the 2014 winter games in Sochi, as both countries represent the U.S.’s most aggressive cyber adversaries, according to USA Today.
Although Brazil is not considered to be such an adversary as China or Russia, the 2016 games will nevertheless likely draw intelligence units from other countries and outside cyber criminals, “all seeking to mine the global event that attracts top government leaders and a constellation of Wall Street and corporate executives,” Evanina said.
“Major sponsor corporations use the Olympics as a platform to invite guests and to discuss business collaboration,” said former FBI official, Ray Mey. “The hotels are bugged and high-level executives are targeted for compromise.”
This latest warning comes after a slew of other troubles surrounding the approaching Rio games, including Zika, political instability and contaminated water.
The Olympic Games open in Rio de Janeiro on August 5.
Sources: USA Today