Aug 03, 2011 at 02:23 PM
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IOC Hit With Biggest Cyber Attack In History, Expert Says

Update (8/4): reports that the British Olympic Association widely feared a cyber attack in the run-up to the Beijing Games, so much so in fact that "in early 2008 they held a special one-day conference organised by worldwide Olympic sponsor Atos Origin where top-level security consultants advised them how to make their systems safe." Meanwhile, Patrick Adiba, the chief executive of LOCOG's IT partner Atos Origin Iberia, recently said that during the Beijing Olympics there were 14 million "events" a day, "about 400 of which were relevant events" that could have been a security issue had they not been blocked. LOCOG says the threat has increased since Beijing.

According to security firm, McAfee, global organizations including the US Government, the UN, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency have been the target of a five-year secret cyber attack that hit over 70 organizations around the world. Some experts are calling it the biggest security breach in history.

"This is the biggest transfer of wealth in terms of intellectual property in history," McAfee's vice president of threat research, Dmitri Alperovitch said as reported by Reuters. "The scale at which this is occurring is really, really frightening."

A security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) speculates that China was the most likely culprit for the attacks due to the timing and targets, with the IOC's systems in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

While details are just emerging of the attack, this could pose an interesting scenario for Olympic TOP sponsor, Atos. Atos, the Worldwide Information Technology Partner, has led the technology effort for the staging of the Olympic Games since 2001. According to the IOC's website, "Atos manages and integrates the contributions of all technology partners and suppliers to deliver seamless and secure technology operations and services that provide instant communications to athletes, spectators, organisers, officials, media, television viewers and Internet users worldwide."

From a PR angle, it will be interesting to see how the company handles this story in the run-up to the 2012 Games, and as more details emerge.


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