Watching Sochi: U.S. finds more specific threats

As people step into Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, they’ll get hacked via their computers and smartphones, see an established security footprint and experience days of international games in a city on lockdown just neighboring a region that has dealt with decades of war.

The New York Times sums it up perfectly:

For the first time in history, the Olympics are being held on the edge of a war zone. The conflict is one of the longest running in the world, a simmering, murky battle between increasingly radicalized militants who operate in the shadows of society and a security force that can be brutal, even when lethally effective.

Russia’s President Putin tries to settle worries over security in Sochi. On Wednesday, he referred to the attack at the Boston marathon last year and said it was a big reason why he wants to make sure the Olympic Games are safe. The two brothers accused for committing the strike at the Boston marathon originated from a disputed conflict region just a few hundred miles away from Sochi.  Although, activists are being arrested and also denied entry into Sochi, even as spectators.

However, reports have raised concerns of being hacked by Russian spies or mobsters once hooking up to the wifi or connection systems in the region. NBC News’ Richard Engel shares his experience of being hacked in Sochi, “In a minute, hackers were snooping around. The same thing happened with my cellphone – it was very fast and very professional.”

So far, Olympians who have arrived to Sochi in advance of the Games say they feel safe. There is reportedly one policeman for every ten people in the Russian town, totaling up to 40,000 policemen deployed for 400,000 people. Despite people in the area feeling a sense of security, 57% of Americans believe a terrorist attack at this year’s Winter Olympics is likely in Russia’s Sochi, a CNN/ORC poll found.

Again – however – just this Tuesday, United States officials have declared they received information on “specific threats” on the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. They are reportedly working with Russian officials to possibly close out those threats:

The primary threat, from a terrorism perspective, comes from Imarat Kavkaz, probably the most prominent terrorist group in Russia. It’s made its intent clear to seek to carry out attacks in the run-up to the Games. We think the greater danger from a terrorist perspective is in potential for attacks to occur outside of the actual venues for the Games themselves in the area surrounding Sochi or outside of Sochi in the region.

The United States is working with the Russian administration and local security to watch all kinds of verifiable Sochi threats and to possibly close out those ongoing threats. Attempts are growing to refocus the Olympic Games on the actual games.

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