Olympic Burner Phones? Athletes Warned About Bringing Personal Devices To China For 2022 Beijing Games

When Olympians from across the globe land in China for the 2022 Winter Olympics, they might be leaving their personal cell phones and other devices behind.

Athletes are being warned by governments of their home countries about potential cybersecurity risks at the Beijing Olympics 2022, which begin next week. There are mixed messages over whether devices will be secure and their personal information will be safe on the web.

Several news outlets, including the New York Times, Axios, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, have reported on the concerns around cybersecurity because of the Chinese Communist Party’s penchant for cyber espionage and desire to control content.

Here is what some countries are advising athletes to do with their personal devices:

United States

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee is encouraging Team USA to use disposable phones or burner phones, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Researchers from the cybersecurity group CitizenLab found the My2022 app, which is mandatory for all Olympians to use to report health data in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, had flaws in its encryption.

“No guarantees of data privacy or security should be made regardless of the security technology utilized,” the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee warned in a tech advisory obtained by Axios. “Assume that every device and every communication, transaction, and online activity will be monitored.”

Beijing is allowing athletes to access websites like Facebook and Youtube, sites normally banned in China by the country’s “Great Firewall,” and the Beijing Olympics Committee told Bloomberg that these cybersecurity briefings are “wholly unnecessary” and “completely groundless.”

Meanwhile, the Biden administration, and other nations, announced a diplomatic boycott last month against the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing human rights abuses in the country such as genocide against the Uyghurs.

Canada

According to The Toronto Sun, athletes are being given security briefings on China and the risks of being a target for hacking.

They are also being given burner phones and SIM cards.

United Kingdom

“We’ve given athletes and staff practical advice so that they can make their own choice as to whether they take their personal devices to the Games, or not,” a British Olympic Association spokesperson told Axios. “Where they do not want to take their own equipment we have provisioned temporary devices for them to use.”

The Netherlands

According to Reuters, the country told its athletes to leave their personal devices at home.

Germany

Athletes are being given a smartphone “from [International Olympic Committee] partner Samsung in Beijing,” German Olympic Sports Federation press spokesperson Michael Schirp told Axios.

According to Axios, the committee is advising that athletes stick to using the My2022 health monitoring app, which is required for athletes to use to monitor for the coronavirus, on their devices while in China.

Finland

“The Finnish Olympic Committee has distributed cyber and device security to athletes ahead of the games, which it does before every Olympics,” spokesperson Mika Noronen told Axios.

Australia

The Australian

Olympic Committee is “providing athletes with advice on minimizing risk,” a spokesperson told the Australian Financial Review.

The committee will also create areas at the games where athletes can use special WiFi networks set up by the committee.

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Source : https://www.nj.com/olympics/2022/01/olympic-athletes-being-told-to-bring-burner-phones-to-beijing.html

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