Computer Security Google & Microsoft Warn That Russian Cybersecurity...

Google & Microsoft Warn That Russian Cybersecurity Threat Actors Could Target the 2024 Paris Olympics

As the 2024 Paris Olympics approach, the potential for cyberattacks, particularly from Russian threat actors, has become a significant concern. Both Google and Microsoft have issued warnings about the elevated risks facing the international event.

According to Google Cloud's Mandiant cybersecurity team, the 2024 Paris Olympics are at risk from a variety of cyber threats, including espionage, disruption, destruction, hacktivism, influence operations, and financially motivated activities. These threats could impact a range of targets, such as event organizers, sponsors, ticketing systems, Paris infrastructure, and the athletes and spectators attending the event.

Russian Threat Actors

Mandiant highlights that Russian cyber threat groups pose the most significant risk to the Olympics. State-sponsored actors from China, Iran, and North Korea also present threats, but to a lesser degree. The presence of numerous government officials and decision-makers at the Olympics could attract cyberespionage activities. Additionally, actors focused on disruption may employ distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, website defacements, wiper malware, and operational technology (OT) attacks to cause psychological and reputational harm.

Financially Motivated Threats

Financially motivated cybercriminals are expected to exploit the event through ticket scams, theft of personally identifiable information, and extortion. They may use Olympics-related themes in social engineering schemes to deceive individuals and organizations.

Microsoft has also observed a network of Russia-affiliated actors engaging in malign influence campaigns targeting France, French President Emmanuel Macron, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the Paris Games. These campaigns have included producing and disseminating fake AI-generated audio and videos, such as the feature-length film "Olympics Has Fallen," which defames the IOC's leadership and predicts terrorist attacks during the event.

Notable Russian Actors

Two Russian threat actors, Storm-1679 and Storm-1099 (also known as Doppelganger), have been particularly active. Storm-1679's campaigns included spreading narratives about expected violence at the Olympics, especially targeting Israeli citizens. Storm-1099 has increased its anti-Olympics messaging using numerous French-language fake news sites, warning of potential violence at the games.

Increasing Malign Activities

Microsoft anticipates that Russian malign activities will intensify as the Olympics draw closer. Initially focused on French-language activities, these efforts are expected to expand to English, German, and other languages to maximize their impact. The use of generative AI in these operations is also likely to increase.

In summary, the 2024 Paris Olympics are facing heightened cyber threats, particularly from Russian threat actors. Both Google and Microsoft are closely monitoring these developments and have provided critical insights into the potential risks, emphasizing the need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect the event and its participants.