Microsoft reveals major Russian cyber threats that looked to target Paris Olympics

Martin Logan of Team Australia BMX Freestyle in action during a training session at Ariake Urban Sports Park ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games
(Image credit: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Multiple Russian state-sponsored threat actors are actively running misinformation campaigns regarding the Summer Olympic Games that are due in Paris, France, this summer. The goal of the campaigns, apparently, is to make people afraid and have them avoid the event altogether.

The Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) recently published a new report outlining at least two separate threat actor groups, Storm-1679, and Storm-1099, working at the same time, and for the same goal.

Readers might remember the latter from previous reports, when Storm-1099 was attributed with a misinformation campaign that Ukraine was selling donated weapons to Hamas to commit atrocities in Israel.

"Olympics Has Fallen"

For these campaigns, the groups are doing a number of things, including spoofing popular news outlets in France and elsewhere in Europe, as well as impersonating actors and celebrities. 

In fact, Microsoft says the misinformation masters created a fake Netflix documentary called “Olympics Has Fallen”, sporting the streaming service’s logo and narrated by an AI-generated Tom Cruise voice. 

“Further analysis confirmed the fake documentary used AI-generated audio resembling Cruise's voice to imply his participation, spoofed Netflix's iconic intro scene and corporate branding, and promoted bogus five-star reviews from reputable media outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the BBC, all amid slick computer-generated special effects," the report noted.

Russian state-sponsored hackers have a history of meddling in both national and global events, with the goal of disrupting and spreading misinformation. The US presidential elections, 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, French President Macron’s presidential campaign, those are just some of the events that Microsoft claims Russia’s hackers interfered with. 

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.