2024 Olympics: Playing Field for Cyber Attacks

2024 Olympics: Playing Field for Cyber Attacks

Olympic Games also serve as a playing field in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security, warns Check Point’s Marco Engerling.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, were an example of the vulnerability of major sporting events to cyberattacks. During the opening ceremony, the malicious “Olympic Destroyer” malware wreaked havoc on critical IT infrastructure and caused widespread disruption to Wi-Fi networks, internet-connected devices and official communication channels. The attack, attributed to a state-sponsored actor, highlights the increasing sophistication and brazenness of cyber attackers targeting high-profile events.

Robust defense mechanisms for Tokyo 2020

In response to the incident in Pyeongchang, the cyber security measures for the subsequent Olympic Games were significantly strengthened. Robust defenses to protect against cyber threats were put in place for the Tokyo 2020 Games, which were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tokyo 2020 organizers worked with cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies to identify potential threats in advance. In addition, advances in threat analysis and detection technologies were used to improve the resilience of the digital infrastructure during the Games.

Despite these efforts, the spectre of cyber-attacks continues to cast a shadow over the Olympic Games and requires constant vigilance and innovation in cybersecurity strategies. The increasing digitalisation of Olympic activities, including ticketing, broadcasting and event management, has increased the attack surface for cyber attackers. As a result, organisers and cybersecurity experts face the daunting challenge of staying ahead of evolving threats while ensuring the smooth running of the Games.

Looking ahead, the cybersecurity landscape around the Olympic Games remains dynamic and unpredictable. With the increasing use of digital technologies and online platforms at major sporting events, the need to secure sensitive data, protect critical infrastructure and maintain the integrity of the competitions becomes ever more pressing. Lessons learned from past incidents and continued collaboration between stakeholders will be key to strengthening the cyber security of future Olympic Games.

Securing the Olympic Games in Paris

As the world looks forward to the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, the organizers of the event face a daunting challenge: securing the Games against a backdrop of escalating cyber threats. France is already a frequent target of cyber attacks, both from hacktivists and state actors. The Olympic Games are now a prime target for cyber attackers to exploit vulnerabilities and cause chaos.

Check Point Research’s analysis of global sporting events, including the European Football Championships, revealed a staggering increase in cyberattacks during the Tokyo Olympics, with an estimated 4.4 billion attacks. The Paris Olympic Organizing Committee, in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee and various security agencies, is taking proactive measures to mitigate these risks. Increased coordination and vigilance are paramount, with Olympians, visitors and local businesses alike being encouraged to take personal responsibility and become more aware of personal safety and cyber security.

DataDome provides Cyber Operations Surveillance Center

Protecting a global event of this magnitude requires a multi-layered approach that includes physical, cyber-physical and cyber security measures. The 2024 Paris Games will be surrounded by concentric layers of security. They extend from the outskirts of Paris, including Charles de Gaulle International Airport and public transportation systems, to the heart of the city where the events will take place. Critical infrastructure such as stadiums, venues and athletes’ villages will be reinforced with advanced security protocols to ensure the security and resilience of the Games.

The French authorities are leaving no stone unturned to mitigate cyber threats during the Paris Olympics. The Cyber Operations Surveillance Center provided by DataDome will monitor and defend against potential attacks. Over 3.5 billion attacks are expected during the Games. Advanced threat intelligence has been shared, exercises conducted and rapid response protocols created to counter various threat scenarios. Scenarios range from cybercriminals targeting financial fraud to state actors aiming to disrupt critical infrastructure.

International cooperation

As preparations for the Paris Olympics intensify, cooperation between French and international partners remains crucial. Recent meetings between French officials and their U.S. counterparts underscore the global nature of cybersecurity challenges and the need for coordinated responses. With the eyes of the world on Paris, the stakes are high, but the determination to ensure a safe and successful Games is unwavering.

In the face of evolving cyber threats, the Paris Olympics are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of modern security practices. Through the use of innovative technologies, strategic partnerships and collective vigilance, the organisers are able to defend the Games against cyber attackers. This is exactly what defines the spirit of unity and sportsmanship that is the Olympic Movement.