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Blocking Cyberattacks at the Olympics is a – well – Olympic Sport





By Andrea MacLean


If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, then you’ll likely recall the epic Battle of Hogwarts in book 7, where Voldemort and his followers attack Harry and friends by unleashing a relentless campaign of magical spells until – finally – the force field is penetrated and the villains swarm Hogwarts.


Are you imagining the scene? Then you can imagine the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, and in fact any major sporting event or other that takes place in an enormous arena and is set upon by cybercriminals. There is a Herculean effort behind the protection of such a perimeter. But what happens if it’s breached?


As NTT’s Global Threat Intelligence Center predicted (see page 8), bad threat actors could not resist a high-profile sporting event like the Olympics. Cybercriminals certainly saw the Games - and its related supply chain - as a high-value target with low downtime tolerance. After all, crime follows opportunity. And with connected stadiums, fan engagement platforms and complete digital replicas of sporting venues and the events themselves becoming the norm, there’s plenty of IT infrastructure and data to target - and via a multitude of components.


But this time, not unlike the Battle of Hogwarts, try as they did, the cybercriminals were thwarted. Thanks to NTT’s holistic approach to cybersecurity strategy, which included ongoing threat intelligence monitoring and analysis, SOC services, a complete security solutions package and an expert team of over 200 cybersecurity specialists, the company was able to assist the Tokyo Olympic Games Committee in blocking about 450 million attacks (2.5x the attacks seen at the 2012 London Summer Olympics), including:


· Emotet malware

· Email spoofing and phishing

· Fake websites made to appear as ones associated with the tournament and/or related organizations

· User authentication errors, such as password spraying attacks


Sporting events like the Olympic Games, the Tour de France, and the Indy 500, for example, are the definition of real-time environments. Once begun, there is no room for down-time. And with a highly distributed team and limited physical presence, agile technologies that can respond to any threats are critical.


If you’re not a big fan of Harry Potter, thank you for indulging me and my labored Battle of Hogwarts and cybersecurity attacks parallel. And don’t forget to patch those common vulnerabilities.


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