Olympic Games Rio 2016: Travel Advisory

Security at Olympics is always a concern (Athens and Russia both experienced terrorism prior to hosting Olympic Games) to the athletes, their coaches, and families, as well as spectators from all over the world. This year at the Rio Olympics, expected to attract 500,000 visitors, the concern is no different. And with the recent arrest of 10-12 members of an Islamic military group after allegedly planning an attack during the games, many are concerned about the lax pre-9/11 security in Brazil even as they ramp up security procedures in advance of the summer Olympic Games.

For those concerned about the security, as well as those comfortable relying on the security of the Brazilians, what many fail to recognize is the security hole sitting in their pocket. Today, everyone carries a smartphone, for both personal and business communications, but what many do not consider is the risk that these mobile communications, including voice calls and text messages, pose. To the Olympic athletes, coaches, trainers and the families and relatives of the athletes the risks include the following:

  • Physical security – simple, seemingly benign conversations such as, “meet me at such and such location at this time,” can pose serious physical risks.
  • Media/Paparazzi risk – communications between an athlete and their coach, family member or significant other can easily be intercepted and wind up in the media causing unnecessary distraction and embarrassment.
  • Competitive risk – communications between athletes, coaches, and others can be intercepted by competitors providing insight into strategy, training, preparedness that can then be used against them.

To members of the general public who will be spectators at the Olympic Games, the risks include the following:

  • Physical security – while spectators may not be as high-profile targets as the athletes, they are just as much at risk for criminals seeking kidnap and ransom payments or worse; terrorists. However, unlike the athletes, spectators do not have the benefit of the same sophisticated security apparatus that protects the athletes.
  • Commercial risk – while some spectators “unplug” and focus their attention exclusively on the games, most naturally continue to keep in active contact with professional colleagues. After all, one unfortunate natural use of smartphones is for work-related activities including checking emails, making phone calls and sending text messages, even while on vacation. Work communications can easily be intercepted, revealing all sorts of confidential business information that can be used for financial or other commercial gains.

While overseas, many consider VoIP communications apps to save on roaming charges. Calls and text messages can quickly add up creating astronomical fees, whereas by switching over to a VoIP app you can make unlimited calls and send unlimited text messages using your data plan.

Some popular consumer VoIP apps, such as WhatsApp, provide a degree of communications security. These may seem sufficient for personal conversations. However, they are not reliable. The Brazilian government has blocked WhatsApp multiple times and it’s probably best not to rely on a solution that may be blocked and ineffective as a means of communicating.

Consider a secure, reliable, easy-to-use secure communications solution such as TrustCall Global Service, ensuring you’ll be able to make secure calls and send secure text messages while enjoying Rio 2016 as an athlete or spectator.

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