A group of hackers has been planning to target the American and Japanese public by emailing fake offers of tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in order to steal private information, a Singaporean security firm reported Thursday.
No damage has been reported as a result of the group's activities so far. But the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee said that to prevent scams, "we have been raising public awareness that tickets sales have not started yet. Assuming phishing scams will occur, we will continue to gather information and give the heads-up."
The hacker group has been discussing its phishing plan since August over the "dark web," which allows untraceable online activities, Antuit's analysis showed.
According to the Singaporean firm, hackers planned to email the fake offers to direct the public to sham sites to cull private information. Duped individuals' computers and smartphones would be contaminated by a virus, allowing hackers to gather sensitive information to surreptitiously draw money from their bank accounts or to conduct future cyberattacks.
In their discussions, hackers considered methods to make their scams more believable, including putting "tokyo2020" in the senders' email addresses and URLs.
They also spoke of content. One email said that individuals could get "free" tickets and a gift worth 68,000 yen ($610) in what seemed like machine-translated Japanese.
During their back-and-forth, a hacker mentioned that an attack on 170,000 individuals in the United States and Japan has already started, indicating that multiple attacks may be in the works.
"Looking at their dialogue, there is a high possibility that the hacking group is of Chinese origin. More cyberattacks that target the Tokyo Olympics can be expected as the world focuses on the sporting event," said Shuhei Igarashi, vice president of Antuit's Japanese branch.