Leading Chinese university warns students of possible cyberattack ahead of Beijing 2022
Published: Jan 27, 2022 08:57 PM
Volunteers of the Beijing 2022 are working at media center which started to operate 24 hours a day on Monday. Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT

Volunteers of the Beijing 2022 are working at media center which started to operate 24 hours a day on Monday. Photo: Zhang Changyue/GT


A top Chinese university in Beijing, which has sent the largest number of volunteers to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, warned its students and teachers to keep alert on possible cyberattacks from suspicious malwares that are disguised as related to the Games. 

In a released warning on Thursday, Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) alerted students and teachers to keep vigilant on possible cyberattacks from malwares under the cover of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, citing data released by VirusTotal, a security website based in Spain that analyzes files and URLs for viruses, worms, trojans and other kinds of malicious content.

Chinese industry insiders previously had warned of possible attacks relating to the Winter Games. Besides websites, apps that relate to the Games could be targeted by hackers, power systems and infrastructure facilities could also be on hackers' agendas.  

Nine malware samples of which the contents relate with the Games were released by VirusTotal. The nine malware samples are all named in Chinese and contain the Chinese words for "Winter Olympic Games" or "Winter Paralympic Games." 

A BFSU volunteer serving at the main media center told the Global Times on Thursday that he and his volunteer friends haven't received such malwares. "But the malwares' names are really deceptive since the Chinese expression like 'Charge Card' and 'Arrival and Depart' frequently appear in our daily working," said the volunteer. "If I received such malwares in these names, I might click on it without hesitation." 
China has been a victim of cyberattacks for many years. Security experts reached by the Global Times said that drawing from experiences from previous Olympics that suffered attacks from political hackers and civic hackers, there is potential for attacks during the Winter Games. If security attacks happen during the Games, there would be wide and devastating consequences. And in serious scenarios, it would result in system paralysis, the experts said.

The university has sent more than 900 students and teachers, the largest number of volunteers, to all competition venues and award plazas in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, as well as three Olympic Villages in Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, the headquarters of the Organizing Committee, the main media center, the Mountain Press Center and the Olympic Family Hotel.

BFSU urged students and teachers not to click on suspicious hyperlinks and attachments in emails to ensure safety of the school's important systems and personal data during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. 

Once the users are induced to click and execute the malware samples attackers send through phishing emails, backdoor implantation and malicious IP addresses backlink will happen. This will give attackers access to resources within an application such as databases and file servers, the notice reads.