Could Russian hackers ruin Olympics? Paris’ secret plans to stop cyberattacks – South China Morning Post

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Just like the Olympic athletes, the cyberwarriors that will be crucial for the success of the Paris Games are deep into training for the big event.

They have turned to friendly hackers to probe their cyberdefences, like boxers who use sparring partners to ready them for a championship fight.

They have studied and analysed the strengths, tactics and weaknesses of their opponents. Those could be anyone from teenage show-offs and ransomware gangs to Russian military hackers with a track record of malicious cyberattacks.

But unlike the 10,500 Olympians who will converge on France’s capital in July, the cybersecurity engineers behind the Games are hoping to stay out of the spotlight.

For them, the equivalent of a medal will be getting through the Olympics – and Paralympics – without a major incident.

The head of France’s national cybersecurity agency says it is “preparing for everything”. Photo: AFP

It would mean that their layers of digital defences stand up to attempts to paralyse computer and information systems vital for the Games.

“My dream for the Olympics is that technology and cybersecurity aren’t talked about, because that will mean it was a non-issue,” Jeremy Couture, who heads the Paris Games organisers’ cybersecurity hub, said.

While those in charge of fending off cyberattacks during the Games are not willing to divulge much detail about their work, they have no doubt malicious hackers are going to keep them busy this summer.

Those could range from cybercriminals to thrill-seeking teenage troublemakers to Russian military intelligence operatives with a track record of damaging cyberattacks.

Vincent Strubel, who heads France’s national cybersecurity agency, known by its French initials, ANSSI, called the cyberthreats level facing the Games unprecedented.

“There will be cyberattacks during the Games and the Paralympics,” Strubel said at a briefing on Friday. “Some won’t be serious. Some will be serious but won’t have an impact on the Games. And perhaps there will be some that are serious and liable to have an impact on the Games.”

He said the agency has trained “enormously” and more than ever before, so things will go well. “I think we have managed to stay a step ahead of the attackers.”

While Strubel named Russia as among the actors who attack France “a bit recurrently”, he said it makes no sense to focus on one actor in particular. “We are preparing for everything.”

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