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Top Cyber Threats at the 2012 Olympics

Posted July 2, 2012    Peter McCalister

During the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games there were 12 million cyber-attacks reported per day. While taking a closer look towards this year’s Olympic Games, it’s important to focus on the possible threats and what we can do to avoid an attack. There’s no doubt that threat landscape has grown in the past four years, and protecting against this takes considerably more precaution in order to avoid a media nightmare during this year’s 2012 games. Let’s not forget that the information is being compromised and reputations being destroyed. Showing a presence at the Olympic Games is about your appearance and what you can do better than the others. It will be interesting to see how this year’s games play out. Marc Maiffret, CTO at BeyondTrust, has identified some of the top cyber threats:

Hacktivists
We have seen a lot of activity these last couple of years as it relates to hacktivism and particularly a level of hacktivists located in and around London as it relates to Lulzsec/Anonymous. Given the ongoing trials of some Lulzsec members in the UK it makes the chance of hacktivism attacks during the Olympics to be even more likely. InformationWeek talks more about hacktivism.

Phishing/Malware Attacks
As with most high profile events there has already been instances of both email and web-based attacks appearing to be communications related to the Olympics, but in reality are just standard malware/cybercrime attacks looking to take advantage of peoples excitement over the Olympics.
One such email attack was a specifically made Adobe Acrobat document that was purported to be a copy of the London 2012 Olympics Schedule.
Another common attack is around “SEO” based advertising/link malware. Attackers essentially perform search engine optimizations, like a marketer would, to make sure their malicious webpages/advertisements are at the top of Google and related search engine results. That way unsuspecting individuals are lured into accidently clicking on malicious websites related to their browsing for 2012 Olympics information. Read more in PCMag.

Inside Threat
Most businesses have a great deal of worry as it relates to insider threat attacks from rogue employees, the Olympics is no different in that regard.
During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin Italy, a rogue employee whom was a technical consultant for TOROC (Torino Organizing Committee) illicitly gained access to off-limits sections of the network. Interestingly enough this rogue TOROC employee actually showed up in one of the Wikileaks U.S. cable leaks (http://cables.mrkva.eu/cable.php?id=52723 – Search webpage for TOROC or hacker to find reference)
Honeypots
One of the strategies that current and previous Olympic games have employed from a security perspective is that of honeypots. Honeypots are systems setup to appear to be vulnerable to lure an attacker in so that security professionals can work to block those hackers future attacks. This was something used during the Beijing Olympics and also within the current 2012 Olympics. Example of this in action at the Beijing games from ZDNet.

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