Olympic experts sure they can repel cyber threats
LONDON (AP) — Vital computer systems for London's 2012 Olympic Games have come under repeated cyber-attacks — but only from hackers who were invited to join in thousands of hours of security tests.
Atos, the lead technology company for the Summer and Winter Games since 2002, said Tuesday it had carried out more than 200,000 hours of testing, including mounting simulated attacks. It's all aimed at protecting the systems that will deliver results to Olympic venue scoreboards, event timetables to athletes, and Olympic accreditation information to British border officials.
The company is responsible for about 11,500 computers and servers at locations across Britain. Starting next week, it will run its Olympic Technology Operations Center — based in Canary Wharf, close to the Olympic stadium — around the clock, monitoring possible cyber threats second by second.
Michele Hyron, the company's chief integrator, said to help test its defenses Atos had drafted in so-called "ethical hackers" — specialists capable of mounting sophisticated attacks who use their knowledge to test systems rather than disable them.
"We are using ethical hackers for that, we are using external companies, we are using people from our own company who are specialized in that kind of activity," she said. "We are preparing ourselves in terms of testing to cover all the kind of threats to the Olympic Games."
She spoke at the technology center, where banks of experts were lined up in long rows according to their individual expertise.
A quarter of the London Olympic organizing committee's overall budget of $3.1 billion has been spent on technology. Atos is expecting to handle 2 million pieces of key data throughout the event — 30 percent more than at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In Beijing, experts encountered about 12 million potential cyber security problems each day. Hyron said Atos expects to see between 12 and 14 million events per day during the London Games, though only about 20 a day will be categorized as formal incidents — actions that require investigation.
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