Anyone traveling to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics should leave any sensitive devices or data at home, as the likelihood of being hacked on Russia’s unfriendly and unsecured internet is almost certain.
NBC’s Richard Engel reports that any attempt to log onto public WiFi in Moscow is met with a barrage of malicious malware, and in some instances networks quickly began downloading personal data from devices and transmitting it to a server based in Russia.
“The state department warns that travelers should have no expectation of privacy even in their hotel rooms,” Engel said during a Tuesday Nightly News report. “You are especially exposed as soon as you try and communicate with anything.”
Hackers were even able to take control of Engel’s phone to tap and record his conversations in less time than it took to drink a cup of coffee. The report warns that turning on your phone in baggage claim in the Moscow airport could already be too late, and that being hacked is not a matter of if, but when.
Engel experimented with various Moscow WiFi hotspots along with the help of an American security expert. According to the report, visitors should completely avoid any Russian WiFi connection entirely, and delete any sensitive data prior traveling to Russia.
The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony begins Friday, Feb. 7 in Russia.