By Virginia Farrell
What price would you pay for cyber security?
The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is putting up $750 million in technology to protect the games from hacking attempts, but will it be enough?
The first electronic attacks on the Olympics can be traced back to 1980, but as years have passed and the internet has grown more and more complex, so have the attacks. In 2008 Beijing received nearly 12 million cyber attack attempts every day.
Since 2002, the Olympic Games have used the Paris-based company Atos as their lead-technology company, who predict up to 14 million possible attacks every day during the London Olympics. Executive Vice President of Atos Patrick Adiba cautions that, although their security is very high, “it can never be 100 percent.” That doesn’t mean they’re aren’t prepared, though. Atos has spent nearly 200,000 hours of testing, even inviting so-called “ethical hackers” to test out their system. Still, because of the ever-changing nature of the internet, security systems that worked eighteen months ago may now be obsolete, forcing technology security companies to constantly be on the cutting edge.
If potential hackers succeed, London and its visitors could be vulnerable to serious financial troubles. As the first “cashless” Olympics, the London Olympics have partnered with Visa to expand the use of credit in the complex by creating a phone that can pay for small purchases wirelessly. Visa also has a monopoly on all credit and cash-dispensing machines near the park. Should a hacker gain access to the Visa network, they have the potential to cost the Games millions of dollars in revenue.
Another security worry is the presence of “hacktivists,” hackers who infiltrate high-profile companies to spread a political or social message. While security experts do not expect state-based hacking, citing other nations’ fears of being blackballed from future Olympics, experts do expect independent hacking groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous to attempt to hack the games. The worldwide reach of the Olympics is enticing for groups that want an immediate and far-reaching platform for their messages. Potential targets include results screens for high-profile events, like the men’s 100 m dash.
5 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed
Not all cybercriminals think big. Protect yourself from cybercrime in the next few weeks by following these five simple rules.
- Only use official websites to watch the Games.
Unauthorized websites may use Olympic coverage to scam people and download malware. Although unprotected PCs are more at risk, Macs aren’t entirely safe either.
- Think twice when buying or “winning” tickets.
This late in the game, most Olympic tickets are sold. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t give out personal information to ticket lotteries, they’re probably scams. If you’re still looking for tickets, the Olympics Committee has provided potential visitors with a handy guide to legitimate Olympics websites.
- Use official apps.
NBC and BBC have provided official apps with which to watch the Games on smartphones and tablets. Unauthorized apps may download harmful viruses on your devices.
- Be skeptical of your texts.
Scammers may send out text message with links that infect your mobile device. Think carefully before you click on any links, and distrust unknown phone numbers.
- Beware of anti-social media
Don’t click on links that you don’t trust, even if they are posted by your friends. Also, be especially skeptical of disguised links that are tweeted, and of fake Olympics twitter accounts.
For more information on cybercrime, check out our post on the Wikileaks scandal.