Once in a Generation

For decades, the Olympics has been one of the primary sporting attractions for the entire world. As countless countries gather their top inspired athletes and march along the red carpet with their pride in their countries flag, the Olympics represent a time to show the world what you and your country are all about. It’s one of the most coveted, exhilarating, and heartening events worldwide as the opportunities to win your nation a gold, silver, or bronze medal does not come along very often. Athletes train and compete with pride and are truly an inspiration to younger generations.

As the Olympics represent one of the biggest stages an athlete can compete in, we also know that the security challenges around these events are extremely high. When a country has a once in a lifetime opportunity to train and compete in the Olympics, they must hit the ground running at top speed with the highest intensity level. As exciting as these events can get, there have been numerous security breaches that have cost many athletes and countries. We must ensure these events are secured to the highest level possible and continuously monitor the activities occurring both on and off the stage.

The Past

LA 2015 – Report

In 2015, the city of Los Angeles welcomed 6,500 athletes, 2,000 coaches, 30,000 volunteers, and over 500,000 spectators throughout the twelve-day event. This was an event that experienced a number of security breaches as the public was given permission to walk freely into any and all venues. However, the event was also capable of limiting hackers to only a few breaches as opposed to a massive breaching.

With the events distributed throughout the cities of LA and Long Beach, organizers determined that the most efficient way to limit security breaches was to rely and keep a close eye on both the video surveillance and boots-on-the-ground officers for situational awareness. Their strategy for security featured an extensive video wall as well as monitoring hubs in UCLA, Long Beach, USC, LA Convention Center, and a specifically dedicated hub for sporting centers and event areas. Having the ability to monitor and track all the events occurring both on and off the stage at all times proved effective for the event organizers.

PyeongChang 2018 – Report

In 2018, South Korea opened its doors for the winter Olympics in PyeongChang, where the country welcomed a total of 2,952 athletes scattered across 92 countries worldwide. All athletes competed for a chance to be gifted with one of the 102 medals available in the two-week competition. As memorable as the event was, it didn’t exactly kick-off to the greatest start, as the PyeongChang 2018 website crashed minutes into the opening ceremony. Visitors were unable to log in to their accounts, download tickets, or search information. In addition, Wi-Fi service was also temporarily knocked out, as well as television feeds in the Main Press Center. As reported by The Guardian, it took nearly 12 hours for all these issues to be resolved by the cyber response team.

Undoubtedly, an attack this significant must have been planned years in advance, with the help of highly capable and experienced hackers. Officials were not keen to reveal who exactly was behind the attack, but outsiders have a strong belief that the Russians had some sort of play in the hackings. With the Olympics being a major event for hackers to attack, it’s also evident that the event organizers weren’t prepared for the attack to the best of their abilities. They allowed many crucial online systems to be infiltrated and taken advantage of with pure ease, and even the cyber response team was not prepared as t took them half a day to fix the problems.

Why Does This Keep Happening?

It seems as if almost every Olympic event, something goes wrong in the system, whether it’s the website getting shut out, the Wi-Fi getting knocked out, television gets blocked, etc. Hackers continue to grow more and more intelligent by the day and this allows them to always stay one step ahead and manipulate the public.

In order for the cyber-attacks to be fully successful in such a highly secured event like the Olympics, the plan must be developed years in advance. And that’s what these hackers have done continuously throughout the past decades. It’s almost like as soon as each Olympic event ends, the hackers immediately start to work on how they are going to hack the next Olympic Games. As these hackers work continuously to develop their plan of attack, event organizers plan their defense systems only months in advance, allowing them to always fall behind on the overall operation.

What Does This Mean For Future Olympic Events

We’ve seen major hackings at previous Olympic events, but the question is, will we continue to see these in future events? It’s very difficult to definitively say that all future Olympics events will experience some type of hacking, but it’s evident that based on previous cyber-attacks, there remains a very good chance.

As technology continues to evolve, hackers continue to get more intelligent and experienced by the day. This makes countless security systems very vulnerable, and especially those involving major worldwide events. It would take continuous work, insight information, and sleepless nights in order for Olympic security teams to prevent any sort of hacking into the system.

Can We Stop The Cyber-Attacks  

The honest answer is no, but we can limit them. The Olympic Security Committee can protect the event from these types of attacks in at least three ways. We recommend, first, that you enable two-factor authentication using BioConnect’s Unified Mobile Access Control Solution. Second, learn how to spot phishing schemes and protect yourself from them. Third, enable security alerts about links and files from suspicious websites.