Experts are saying that hackers could potentially hit the Tokyo Summer Olympics with cyberattacks, reports The Hill.
“[T]he Olympics are a huge opportunity for a country, in this case Japan, to put its best foot forward, to show off, to show the gains and strides that it has made, to increase tourism, to put itself on a better place on the world stage. Any nation state that is not aligned with Japan may see an opportunity here to try to embarrass Japan through a cyberattack," Chief analytics officer of the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) Neil Jenkins told the news outlet.
The CTA in a published a report said potential threats include data leaks, ransomware attacks and disinformation campaigns.
Russia is seen as one of the biggest threats, experts say.
“[T]here are obviously physical risks, which are very real at every Olympics, but as far as the cyber risks go, I think the most important threat is the risk of disruption by Russian actors," John Hultquist, vice president of cybersecurity group FireEye’s Mandiant Threat Intelligence, told The Hill. "We were expecting them to hit Tokyo before COVID disrupted the games the first time. Mandiant has seen evidence that they were probing Japanese networks.”
Ransomware attacks are also a major concern.
The Japanese Olympic Committee revealed last month that it was hit by a ransomware attack in April.
“[T]he thing I am most worried about right now for the Games, one of the things at the top of my list in general, is ransomware," said Jenkins. "Because of all of the systems and things that have to go right to pull off an event as large as the Olympics, there are a lot of organizations that could be targeted.”
Concerning potential disinformation campaigns, Hultquist said: “I think any international event is going to have a corresponding information operations threat. The Olympics have been an ideological battleground for a long time. I would not be surprised if some of those players get engaged as well.”
A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told Reuters last year that the IOC and organizing committee of the Olympic Games "have identified cyber security as a priority area and invest a lot to offer the Olympic Games the best cyber security environment possible.”
Jenkins also said he believes that both the Japanese government and the IOC are taking the possible threats seriously, telling the Hill it was impossible to defend against everything.
“[W]e know that they are engaging correctly with the broader cybersecurity community," he said.
"I think it’s a good sign that they are conducting cybersecurity exercises, thinking through information sharing relationships and getting ready in case something happens. With as many organizations that are involved, with as many vulnerabilities that could be present in each of those organizations, a lot of times the best thing you can do is be prepared to respond.”
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