hack

NBC False Claim Says Don’t Browse The Web In Sochi Or You’ll Be Hacked

February 6, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz


Mobile is security is nothing to take lightly. If anything, it needs to be taken more seriously. Does that mean you need to worry about every little thing when it comes to browsing or accessing sensitive data on your device? No. You just need to be aware. A recent News cast from NBC states that visitors who were traveling to Russia to attend the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games, would be HACKED within MINUTES of touching down. “As soon as travelers pull out their smartphones and browse the web, it’s already too late” the broadcast stated. Basically saying that you werent safe anywhere within the country if you decide to use web connected devices, or rather within Sochi. First, lets put that completely and utterly ridiculous claim to bed. Traveling to and visiting within Russia and browsing the web on your phone does not automatically make you a target. The story is fake and for whatever reason NBC felt they needed to draw attention.

How do we know it’s fake? Because security experts Errata Security have proven the story was false. As Errata points out, the technical details meant something entirely different when they referred to going to the olympics. The computers they used for the purpose of the “experiment” as it’s called within the news broadcast are browsing websites that are Olympic “themed”, and are riddled with malicious content. Browsing these websites is what got them hacked in the first place. The location of where they were means nothing, because that particular website could be accessed from anywhere. If you had internet in Antarctica, and decided to browse the same website, you could be and probably would be hacked. The broadcast from NBC also makes mention of all this activity happening while at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. If you pay close attention, the “security’s expert” that NBC’s Richard Engel meets with says “welcome to moscow”. The cafe where they go have coffee is in Moscow, not Sochi. Again, their location has nothing to do with the malicious activity that happens to the two brand new Macbooks, which were apparently hard to get out of the box.

They also point out Richard Engel browsing on his Android smartphone and stating that he got hacked, or rather using the phrase, “the phone was hacked.” As Errata points out, the use of this phrase can help clue you in to the fact that the claims made by this story are false, and that this type of wording is referred to as “passive voice”. Using this type of terminology is a way to cover up details. Details that Errata Security received from Kyle Wilhoit, who was the security expert that met Engel in, once again, Moscow and not Sochi, where the news story claims you’ll be hacked if you visit and browse the web seemingly anywhere in the city. As Engel himself is the person who initiated the download of said malicious content that got him “Hacked”, claiming that simply browsing the web in the Sochi coffee shop caused the issue is also false. There are numbers of ways you can avoid coming in contact with these kinds of problems. As Android Central states, the very first and easiest way to avoid downloading malicious apps is to make sure the unknown sources box in security settings is unchecked. If this setting is left alone, your phone will throw up a prompt on the display telling you that the app is not from the Play Store. Thus forcing you to turn on the “load from unknown sources” option to continue.

So just to recap, the story claims that by browsing on your smartphone or computer the minute you touch down in Sochi, you’ll be hacked. You can’t do anything to stop it, so don’t even bother. Security software and apps? Why waste your time. Richard Engel is warning us of the horrors of the internet. So the best thing to do according to NBC is either avoid using web connections while in Russia, or deal with it? Now let’s take a look at the raw details. The websites that Richard Engel navigated to is where the hacking began. Yes, it seems the computers were hacked, but only because of the website he visited, and not because of the regional location where they were sipping coffee. Second, the Android smartphone that Engel was holding, only downloaded a malicious app that could potentially harm his data because he told the phone to do so. You don’t hear any mention of the unknown sources box being checked allowing Engel to download malicious content. That’s because it would look bad. Moral of the story is, don’t believe everything you see on TV, or read on the web for that matter. Right? And as Errata states, “don’t let Richard Engel borrow your phone”. If you can follow these simple steps, along with the everyday basic things you should already be doing to help safeguard yourself from harmful cyber attacks, you should be perfectly fine. Lastly, shame on NBC news for putting this story out, as all that it serves to do is put fear into the American public. Hopefully no one believes the farce that it is, and if it were appropriate we would have used more silly words to report about this false news story from NBC, because that’s it’s exactly what it was, silly and outright fraudulent.