With the Olympics rolling into its third week, victory seems to be lining up for beloved Olympians from fencing to hockey, looks like success has been paving its way and is making sure to not leave any stone unturned. Having said that, as much as we all love to see and vouch for our favorites. Phishers seem to be equally interested in it.
With warning alarms lingering on the front door Japan is on the verge to strike back with more than 220 trained “ethical hackers” in hopes to create a more cyber-secure Tokyo 2021. The reason being the FBI report that clearly stated – Olympics could be targeted by any number of possible attacks, including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, social engineering, phishing campaigns, or insider threats.
The need to set out alarming warning comes after Russian hackers targeted the past two Olympic Games, seemingly in retaliation after the International Olympic Committee banned Russian athletes from competing under their country’s flag after a humiliating doping investigation.
Russian military hackers were doing reconnaissance in preparation for a possible cyberattack against the Tokyo Olympics before the games were postponed by the pandemic. But there’s no evidence so far, they resumed that work when the games were rescheduled. A significant hack against the Olympics could be a major blow to one of the first truly global events since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. But that also paves a way of making it a prime target.
Having said that, the Tokyo Summer Olympics may shape up to be what covid-19 PPE and vaccine diplomacy was to 2021: a clear opportunity for nation states to deploy information campaigns to denigrate their adversaries, promote their system of governance, and burnish their image on the world stage.
The Games of the 32nd Olympiad could prove especially attractive to threat actors since due to the COVID-19 pandemic, spectators are largely barred from venues and the event will be only viewed through broadcast or digital viewing platforms.
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Adversaries could use social engineering and phishing campaigns in the lead up to the event to obtain access or use previously obtained access to implant malware to disrupt affected networks during the event. Social engineering and phishing campaigns continue to provide adversaries with the access needed to carry out such attacks.
However, for now, there have been no signs of an attack targeting the popular sporting event. The FBI to date is not aware of any specific cyber threat against these Olympics, but encourages partners to remain vigilant and maintain best practices in their network and digital environment.
So, to say keep an eye out seems like an appropriate solution. But as these mega events become further digitized, event organizers and sports officials must become even more concerned about cyber threats looming over the games. Here are some ways that can become in handy:
- The best offense is a good defense:
Cyber threats come from actors across the world. To demystify the tactics and agendas of rogue adversaries, Olympic Host Committees must recruit cultural anthropologists, linguistics experts and behavioral specialists to help analysts and engineers interpret intentions, identify patterns and effectively counter cyberattacks. This is called an Intelligence Driven Defense.
- Advanced technology and intelligence:
Machine learning techniques and advanced data analytics can help collect, collate, sift, analyze and share vast amounts of information being collected by various sensors. The ability to quickly analyze, adapt, and respond to threats at tactical speeds can mean the difference between success and failure.
Hopefully the Private tech companies, the government and other countries would have probably come together to shape the narrative that Japan’s cybersecurity is indeed advancing. Tokyo 2020 in all regards will be a good stage to showcase this progress.
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