London Olympics cyber attack fears

The BBC has released details from 2012 Olympic Games officials about fears that the opening ceremony might have come under cyber-attack.

Here are some comments from industry veterans on the news.

Dan Holden, Director Research, Arbor Networks

Many people may ask themselves why anyone would target a ceremony that by definition celebrates coming together and fair play, but in truth there are a whole range of constantly evolving motivations behind cyber-attacks – ideological hacktivism and vandalism being in the top 5 motivations for cyber-attacks according to Arbor Networks 8th Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report. Because of that any company or event, including the Olympic ceremony, can become a target.

Although a false alarm, this potential assault highlights the increasing need for true preparedness against cyber-attacks. With this, cyber threats are rising in the business agenda and roles such as head of cyber security will becoming increasingly common.

However, the British government must realise that cyber criminals are often one step ahead and that attacks on critical infrastructure will only increase as attackers realise the potential impact such attacks can have on the economy and the reputation of an organisation and ultimately the country. With this in mind, appropriate steps must be taken by governments and business to ensure that during crucial moments, the “lights always stay on’.

Dr. Jarno Limnell, Director of Cyber Security for Stonesoft

With cyber due to underpin almost every aspect of the future economy in the UK, confidence in its digital security is an absolute must. When given the chance to attract the attention of billions, a rogue-group successfully deploying a cyber-attack could strike billions of pounds off future economic investment and significantly alter London’s standing as global financial power. It is not coincidence that UK banks today fear cyber attacks more than euro crisis.

In the past few months we’ve seen the UK progressively assign more and more resources to bolster cyber security initiatives. The launch of the country’s first national computer emergency response team later this year is another notch in this belt and countries such as Brazil, looking to host major upcoming sporting events, should look to the UK and its response to this threat as a learning opportunity.

Employing a head of cyber-security emphasises an increasing recognition of the potentially severe consequences a cyber-attack when on the world stage can have. In the future, human resource teams will delegate this as a key role and component in planning for such an event.

David Harley, Senior Research Fellow for ESET

The nature of the threat in these reports isn’t entirely clear, or how much substance there was behind those fears of a direct attack on UK power utilities or the Olympic Games in general, but the business world in general might learn something about risk assessment and contingency planning from this report.

Although the same manpower and intelligence-gathering resources obviously aren’t available to most businesses, the simple measures of ensuring a process is in place in the event of a suspected breach can easily be replicated.

Employing staff whose responsibility it is to ensure adequate cyber security is in place across the business, regularly monitored and updated with a plan in place to protect core assets should be a consideration for even the smallest businesses.


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