Olympic App Malfunctions


Allie Rial, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Winter Olympics, set to start on February 4th, have already faced a lot of problems. Protests of the Games concerning human rights and the presence of the Omicron variant preventing ticket sales for spectators have been two issues faced, but now another possible difficulty has arisen: as reported by Liza Lin for The Wall Street Journal, all the athletes competing are required to have an app entitled “My 2022,” “to monitor the health of attendees, as well as facilitate information sharing, leading up to and throughout the 2022 Games.” However, some individuals at Citizen Lab, a part of the University of Toronto focused on cybersecurity, have discovered that connections to insecure websites the app fails to stop makes personal information of the users vulnerable.

Messaging was another issue Citizen Lab pointed out, said Lin. They elaborated that “the app didn’t properly encrypt sensitive metadata transmitted through the app’s messaging function,” which makes it easy on hackers to gain information over public Wi-Fi. One of the report writers, Jeffrey Knockel, said that the issues were discovered after downloading the app on iOS and creating an account, while parallel issues were found with the Android setup without even making an account.

Citizen Lab further related that the seemingly relaxed security within the Olympic app is similar to other Chinese apps in that they have “vulnerabilities,” “more likely to be the result of China’s lax enforcement of cybersecurity standards than part of an intentional government effect to steal data,” writes The Wall Street Journal.

As a result of this, some countries are advising their athletes not to bring their personal cell phone with them at all, and instead put the app on a different phone just to use the required mobile app.

With an additional security concern added to the mix, it gives an uneasy feel to the start of the Winter Games. Even still, there should be a lot of impressive competition from all the athletes who have worked so hard to excel and show the world what they can do.