There’s little question at this point that the logistics in Sochi, from hotel rooms to public infrastructure, are a mess, but one of the greatest threats to visitors is one they can’t even see. According to NBC, it’s a near-guarantee that connected devices are being watched by hackers within Russia, who use malware downloaded on smartphones and laptops to steal personal information.
It can be assumed that visiting dignitaries, athletes, and journalists face a particular risk when it comes to unauthorized access. NBC’s Richard Engel came to Russia with brand-new gear littered with fake accounts, testing the waters while limiting exposure to his legitimate data and contacts. The “honeypot” was a success, with Engel’s Galaxy S4, Mac and Windows laptop all compromised within a day of arrival.
If you’re headed to Sochi (or anywhere else in Russia, for that matter), you should exercise extreme caution while browsing the web and opening email attachments. Hackers will likely need to get malware onto your machine in order to easily access files, but with deadline pressures and limited free time to surf online, it may be unreasonable to expect the majority of users to avoid falling victim to these attacks. In fact, many visitors may already be sharing their online movements with hackers, and with the exception of pulling the plug entirely, at this point there’s little hope.