A McAfee report has already found hacking attempts before Pyeongchang 2018 ©McAfee

A report by security firm McAfee has found that hackers are already targeting the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

It found that several organisations associated with the South Korean Games have received malicious emails in apparent attempts to steal passwords or financial information.

Many of these emails have been falsely written to appear as if they came from South Korea's National Counter-Terrorism Centre, the body responsible for conducting anti-terror drills in the build-up to the Games.

It is thought that attempts began last month and have particularly targeted companies affiliated with the sport of ice hockey.

"The majority of these organisations had some association with the Olympics, either in providing infrastructure or in a supporting role," the McAfee report said, as reported by the Business Standard.

"The attackers appear to be casting a wide net with this campaign."

A copy of one such malicious document published by McAfee ©McAfee
A copy of one such malicious document published by McAfee ©McAfee

It is claimed that many of the bogus emails actually came from an address in Singapore, but contained instructions in Korean requesting the reader to open a text document.

Malicious software was hidden either in text or images.

"Based on our analysis, this implant establishes an encrypted channel to the attacker's server, likely giving the attacker the ability to execute commands on the victim's machine and to install additional malware," McAfee added.

"With the upcoming Olympics, we expect to see an increase in cyber-attacks using Olympics-related themes.

"In similar past cases, the victims were targeted for their passwords and financial information."

Sports bodies have taken steps to tighten their security in recent years after a series of hacking attacks.

Tokyo 2020's website crashed in 2015 after one such episode while the World Anti-Doping Agency suffered a series of attacks this year amid the Russian doping scandal. 

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will take place between February 9 and 25 with the Paralympics following between March 8 and 18.