Olympics prepare for cyber-attacks

An important aspect of the security for the London Olympics will be protection against cyber-attacks. Although some commentators have over-estimated the risk from hackers, Olympic organisers have made online security a priority in the run-up to the Games.

The company in charge of online security, Atos Origin, has taken measures to protect important data on competitors, drug-test results, points totals and such like. Much of the work concerns issues of privacy and data protection, but there is also awareness of the danger of a cyber-attack that could completely disrupt the operation of the Games.

Security consultant Graham Cluley spoke to The Guardian about the vital issues of Olympic security: "Clearly the computer systems will have personal information about a large number of sportspeople which could be a target for identity thieves," he said. "Also, there are the details about the spectators – those need to be held securely."

Hackers' motivations might be for entertainment, publicity or for more malicious reasons. "Olympics websites will receive a lot of traffic," Cluley said, "so there will be a risk that hackers could plant malware on webpages and infect innocent users."

With every aspect of the Olympics, from traffic schedules to sprint timings reliant on efficient compiter technology, it’s understandable if a level of paranoia creeps into the security arrangements.

"People can have horrible visions of nasty cyber-attacks," says Mikko Hypponen, an online security specialist with F-Secure. "And people prepare. In reality we have seen very few cases."

London organisers will hope that remains the story this summer.

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