A smartphone app built by China to monitor the health of attendees at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games next month contains security flaws that make it vulnerable to privacy breaches and hackers, a report released on Tuesday by Canadian researchers said.
The MY2022 app was built by the Beijing Organizing Committee to track and share virus-related medical information among the athletes during the Games.
Researchers with Toronto’s Citizen Lab project said that MY2022 failed to properly encrypt the transfer of personal data, leaving it vulnerable to hackers.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that it had conducted independent assessments on the application and had not found any “critical vulnerabilities.”
“It is not compulsory to install ‘My 2022’ on cellphones,” the IOC said in a statement.
Yu Hong, director-general of the Beijing Organizing Committee’s technology department, yesterday said that the main function of the app is to monitor people’s health and the country follows strict rules to protect data.
All of the MY2022 app’s technology aspects have been validated by relevant app stores, Yu told a briefing hosted by China’s embassy in the US via video link from Beijing.
Technology vulnerabilities are normal when developing this kind of app, Yu said, adding that her department is constantly updating the app to remove issues.
The Citizen Lab researchers said they found the flaws in the iOS version of the app after creating an account on it.
They were unable to set up an account on the Android version, but said the security flaws existed in both MY2022 versions.
The app failed to validate SSL certificates, which are needed to authenticate a Web site’s identity and enable encrypted connections, they said, adding that this can be exploited by hackers to transmit the data to malicious sites.
“Such data can be read by any passive eavesdropper, such as someone in range of an unsecured Wi-Fi access point, someone operating a Wi-Fi hotspot, or an Internet service provider or other telecommunications company,” they said.
Citizen Lab said it had informed the Beijing Organizing Committee on Dec. 3, but had received no reply.
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