World News

Olympics Open and Cyberattacks Begin

Posted February 9, 2018 11:59 p.m. EST

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Internet problems before and during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday were being investigated as a possible cyberattack, officials said Saturday.

Sung Baik-you, a spokesman for the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, said Saturday that some technical issues “impacted some of our noncritical systems last night for a few hours.”

Sung did not elaborate and said that the committee was investigating the cause. He said the attack “did not disrupt any event or have any effect on the safety or security of any athletes or spectators.” A spokeswoman for the committee said a cybersecurity team was assisting in the investigation.

During the ceremony, the wireless service in the stadium stopped working as soon as the ceremony began, hampering reporters and spectators who wanted to post on social media.

According to a report by the Yonghap News Agency, the attack disrupted some internet-based telecasts at the main press center. When organizers shut down servers to deal with the attack, the Pyeongchang 2018 website stopped working, and some spectators who had bought tickets for the opening ceremony were unable to print out their reservations.

Sung said that the organizers sold 99 percent of 35,000 tickets to the opening ceremony, although viewers noticed many empty seats.

It is possible the frigid weather kept some away, in addition to technical problems.

Mark Adams, a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee, said he hoped to have more information Sunday.

Olympic Games are often targets of cyberattacks, and before the opening, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned Americans that cybercriminals would likely try to infiltrate the games.

North Korean hackers have attacked central banks and movie studios. Observers had hoped that the fact that North Korean athletes were attending the games might ease the threat of cyberattacks, while others said that Russian groups might seek to retaliate for a ban on Russian athletes.