Over the course of the last year, it has become fairly clear that the Russian regime has, what seems to be, an obsession with cyber criminality. The discussion surrounding Russia’s hacking activities first emerged shortly following the U.S. 2016 presidential elections, when the results seemed too outrageous to be believable. After a full-blown investigation into Russia’s meddling was launched in the country, evidence started to arise regarding blatant interference into the U.S. elections, and specifically done through Kremlin-linked agents. Hacking of government systems and influencing public opinion through social media, were found to be among the primary means by which Russian officials aimed to interfere with the outcome of the election.
Now, with Russia’s hacking not only known, but also becoming a major concern, recent reports have stated that the rogue government’s latest target was that of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. As if the aspect of hacking the games was not bad enough, sources say that Russia aimed to place the blame on the North Korean government, in an attempt to further increase already rising tensions between the dictatorship and world community.
According to a report from The Washington Post:
‘Russian military spies hacked several hundred computers used by authorities at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, according to U.S. intelligence.
They did so while trying to make it appear as though the intrusion was conducted by North Korea, what is known as a “false-flag” operation, said two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.’
Russians hacked hundreds of Olympic computers and attempted blame North Korea: report
— Adam Lockett (@AdamLockett34) February 25, 2018
The Russian-led hacking, which allegedly first took place on February 9th during the Opening Ceremonies for the games, is thought to be a form of retaliation for the actions taken against Russian athletes shortly before the games were underway. In doing so, the International Olympic Committee had taken strict action upon identifying doping violations by the athletes, ultimately banning officials from the Russia Olympic federation from attending the games, and despite allowing some athletes to participate, forbade the Russian flag and designation to be depicted during the event.
Russian malware targets Pyeongchang Olympics' IT systems ahead of the opening ceremony. https://t.co/cK5qhvLiNi
— Eva (@evacide) February 12, 2018
The same sources that have determined the attack to have come from Russia, are now concerned that a similar attack my be in the works for the closing ceremonies on Sunday. As a result, the officials claimed that they are working closely with South Koreans to watch out for any potential hacking that my arise.
— Wm. McKenna (@Wm_McKenna) February 25, 2018
It is interesting that the Russians aimed to blame the North Koreans for the attack, especially considering the unprecedented levels of cooperation that have been seen between South and North Koreans throughout the games. For the first time, North Korea agreed to display a show of unity and togetherness with their South Korean counterparts, as athletes from both nations participated as a joint team representing both Koreas in the games.
If the unity during the 2018 Winter Olympics is any depiction of a slight change of heart by the North Koreans, it is apparent that Russia’s blaming would have been an attempt to debilitate this cooperation. As Russia faces increasing internal and foreign pressures, it should not be surprising to see more extreme measures taken as a futile means of protecting their self-interests.
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