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back to article Forget ski-jumping – Russians setting records in Sochi visitor hacking

It isn't just athletes that have been training hard for the Winter Olympics in Sochi; Russian hackers have also been sharpening their skills to harvest a wealth of valuable data from visitors to the event. But they're not as fast as some of the more excitable reports from the troubled event are telling it. "The State Department …

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Silver badge

Advise for traveling in Russia or China.

Courtesy of the New York Times

The cyber warfare capabilities of China and Russia rival those of the US. Underestimate them at your peril.

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Re: Advise (sic) for traveling (sic) in the US.

If the "cyber warfare capabilities of China and Russia rival those of the US" as you say, then that implies that one must be even more careful when in the US.

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Re: Advise for traveling in Russia or China.

So, the Russians should be worried that when they compromise an American journo's laptop, they may infect themselves with a Trojan while they slurp up data?

Let the Games begin!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advise (sic) for traveling (sic) in the US.

' If the "cyber warfare capabilities of China and Russia rival those of the US" as you say, then that implies that one must be even more careful when in the US. '

Not according to my dictionary ...

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Silver badge

Re: Advise (sic) for traveling (sic) in the US.

> that implies that one must be even more careful when in the US

I think it's more like that you can be less careful but you need to be it all the time. Russia and China do things like hack and install spyware on computers hooked up to free airport wifi, and I doubt the US does that. Also they will be actively targeting you simply because you're a westerner and you're rich or important enough to visit China or Russia. My impression is that you're most likely to get spied upon by US through their wholesale, pseudo-automated, data collection schemes, they are unlikely to target you specifically unless you're in the defense or energy industry or involved with anything which might impinge on defense or energy, such as politics or environmentalism.

Personally I think the focus on NSA/GCHQ is a bit unfortunate, not just because it ignores the equally big threat from other countries, but especially because it ignores that most people are under much greater threat from the rising capabilities of "standard" law enforcement agencies. NSA and FSB wont give a crap that I've got a copy of the "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" DVD on my computer, but the FBI or Metropolitan Police would kick my door down and haul me off to prison.

Edit: Also, my spellchecker doesn't work on titles. Bite me.

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Silver badge

Re: Advise (sic) for traveling (sic) in the US.

If the "cyber warfare capabilities of China and Russia rival those of the US" as you say, then that implies that one must be even more careful when in the US.

Well done, you got the joke!

There was me, thinking "gosh, that's a bit subtle, wonder if anyone will get it"...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advise for traveling in Russia or China.

Wrong.

If that were the case, China's biggest telecom provider would have cottoned on to the fact that the NSA were accumulating their texts and call data. For over a decade, they were clueless until the snowden revelations. much like when the Chinese hack into (or attempt to) a US infrastructure, everyone knows about it. They're seen.

China, Russia and other nations have substantial intelligence over their OWN country. US, UK and FIve Eyes have sustantial intelligence the WORLD OVER. That is the key difference.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Advise for traveling in Russia or China.

"If that were the case, China's biggest telecom provider would have cottoned on to the fact that the NSA were accumulating their texts and call data."

Like the NSA should have cottoned onto the fact that an external contractor did a mass GET on all their SharePoint-hosted SEEKRIT PLANZ and stuck them on an USB stick?

"For over a decade, they were clueless until the snowden revelations. much like when the Chinese hack into (or attempt to) a US infrastructure, everyone knows about it. They're seen."

So the US just let the Chinese get the plans for the F22 and Joint Strike Fighter from Lockheed Martin because it was all part of a cunning plan to do.. what exactly? Or let them compromise the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ National Inventory of Dams because they wanted the Chinese to bid on infrastructure and couldn't be bothered using Dropbox?

"China, Russia and other nations have substantial intelligence over their OWN country. US, UK and FIve Eyes have sustantial intelligence the WORLD OVER. That is the key difference."

Keep thinking that, if you like. I'm left with the growing suspicion that, Chinese or Russian, American or British, they're all well-practiced at script kiddy attacks on their rivals, and like many of us, entirely too rubbish at the defensive side of things.

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Anonymous Coward

Hi, I'm an unpatched device!

Sochi to me!!

(showing one's age)

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Bronze badge

Malware may be the least of your problems

"The State Department warned that travelers should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms."

The NBC hack may have lost his breath over this, but if you go to Sochi - or to Russia in general - heed that warning. The bloody Soviets had in-room bugs and - more than occasionally - hidden cameras in virtually every half-decent hotel in their glory days, just to keep tabs on their own population. Surely no foreigner would ever be assigned a room without mikes or cams in the USSR. I rather doubt that Putin's FSB is any less "efficient", especially in all the hotels built for the games. The floor may be unfinished and the tap water may be brown, but the monitoring infrastructure is certainly there. Oh, and don't assume the hookers don't report to HQ.

That's before we get to comms intercepts and malware.

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Re: Malware may be the least of your problems

"The State Department warned that travelers should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms."

Welcome to America, Great Britain, China, Russia.

Alternatively, just don't travel anywhere with a laptop, smart phone, computing device, internet connected thingy if your data is that important.

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Re: Malware may be the least of your problems

> "... Welcome to America, Great Britain, China, Russia."

Indeed. This unfortunately appears to be the new(isn) reality.

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Must be good stuff then...

Having visited china a few years ago and used the hotel wifi, and having used free airport wifi everywhere from the US to the middle east and Africa, were they routinely infecting machines with spyware, then I should logically have been hit with it.

Despite several years of scanning, patching, and monitoring running processes, I've never detected anything. That may be because I always make sure my OS is up to date, as are all browser plugins and my virus / malware definitions before travelling which may be making my notebook harder to attack.

People who don't do the basics will inevitably have their machines compromised over and over.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Must be good stuff then...

It is good stuff. Didn't you hear about the NSA buying out zero day exploits, preventing people from reporting bugs with software so they can't be fixed? Or how they have invested money and effort into making deals with security software vendors and influencing encryption standards? Chances are, that "virus" is there, but your software isn't registering it as such on purpose - because the NSA asked them not do.

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Re: Must be good stuff then...

> Despite several years of scanning, patching, and monitoring running processes, I've never detected anything.

How would you? It's not script-kiddie worms written to spread blindly, it wont crash anything, is unlikely to ever be included in any anti-virus definition files, and the only way you'll ever know something's there is through a bit-level comparison to an earlier disk image or by sniffing packets if it calls home. And this is assuming the spying device is not hardware -- would you detect an extra circuit inside your laptop or mobe? Would you notice if someone had replaced the power cable?

If a state actor in the country of your residence really wants to spy on you, there is very little you can do about it. "Doing the basics" will certainly not protect you.

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FAIL

Live cd/dvd

Yes, cd/dvd, no usb. Presto. Did I say live cd/dvd?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Live cd/dvd

A few years ago I went travelling around South and East Asia. I brought an SD card and a USB reader. Each time I sat down in an internet cafe I rebooted the PC, booted off the SD card (which was set to read-only) and did what I needed to do. Yes, people could still snoop if they wanted to, but they wouldn't get anything useful.

Usually when I did this I scanned the internal hard drive in the PC and cleaned off all of the spyware and viruses just to be nice.

Interestingly during two months in India, using internet cafes and hotel PCs probably 2-3 times a week I came across two PCs which weren't infected and they were both in the same hotel. They were the only two to have their own, legitimate XP serial number too. Malaysia on the other end of the scale, had very locked down PCs and were all virus free.

I can't imagine much has changed somehow.

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Bronze badge

RE: SD cards / Read only

You do know that the little 'read-only' switch on the side of the card is merely a suggestion to the host, right?

In the operating system, the only thing that happens when you try to write to a card that is 'read-only' is that the OS will bitch at you, if you use the OS's built-in that is. However, you can just send the raw write command and data directly to the card without any problem.

However there is a read-only fuse built into the card you might have used, but then that would mean you are using old, vulnerable software since you can never reset it back to read-write.

What you should have done was to set your partitions to read-only except for /home, /tmp and /var/log. To update, you would mount the device you are booting from on another machine,edit fstab to be RW and then reboot to the device and update, reboot back into other OS and reset fstab to mark everything read-only. Of course this assumes you are using an OS that is intelligent enough to partition its data properly and not just cram everything in to one giant partition.

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JCB
Coat

TV Magic

" But, as Wilhoit later admitted on Twitter, there was more than a little intentional fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) added to the report – or as he described it "part of the 'tv magic'". "

TV Magic - I shall use that in future to describe the deliberate misrepresentation that is presented as TV journalism. "No, it's not wrong, it's just TV magic."

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Re: TV Magic

Let's call a spade a spade:

"it's not a lie, it's just TV magic"

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Happy

Competition

Jeffrey Carr's "Inside Cyber Warfare" may be a little outdated. His Fig 13.1 gives Kaspersky figures on malware distribution by OS (2009?).

FreeBSD Total: 43 Trojans: 0

OSX Total: 48 Trojans: 11

Linux Total: 1898 Trojans: 88

Windows Total: 2247659 Trojans: 1232798

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