Attacks/Breaches

10/12/2017
11:10 AM
50%
50%

Olympic Games Face Greater Cybersecurity Risks

Cybercriminals may alter score results and engage in launching physical attacks at future Olympic Games, a recently released report warns.

Berkelely, Calif. - The Olympic Games in the coming years are likely to face far more serious cyberattacks and ones that will be more difficult to detect, according to a report released this week by the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC).

And although the Summer Olympics don't roll into Los Angeles until 2028, US officials are already considering the cybersecurity threats for the high-profile event. The Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic Games provided support for the CLTC report.

The concern is understandable. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, security officials fielded 11 million to 12 million daily alerts, with roughly a half dozen falling into the imminent threat category, according to the report. And in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, six major security incidents - five of which involved DDoS-related attacks - were brought to the attention of the event's CIO. Last year, at the conclusion of the Rio Olympic Games, Russian hackers pilfered medical records of athletes from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

While most of the threats that have emerged at the Olympics have largely fallen into the categories of reputational harm and financial harm. Cybercriminals ran ticket scams, manipulated websites, pilfered payment information, and attacked maintenance systems, but even more serious attacks are likely in the future, said Betsy Cooper, CLTC executive director, who presented the findings during a panel session here at the University of California at Berkeley this week.

Threats to Grow Darker

While most of the past attacks on sporting events center on IT systems at stadiums and ticket sales and operations, future cyberattacks at the Olympics may occur in eight key areas, says Cooper.

The areas include cyberattacks to facilitate terrorism and kidnappings and panic-induced stampedes; altering scoring systems; changing photo and video replay equipment; tampering with athlete care food dispensing systems; infiltrating monitoring equipment; tampering with entry systems; and interfering with transportation systems.

"I was surprised to learn there are instances where human decisions are overridden by technology," Cooper said, in reference to a growing reliance on using technology to make the first call in a sporting event, rather than a human referee.

She pointed to the reliance of electronic line-calling technology Hawk-Eye that is used in such sports as tennis. The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) plans to fully use electronic line-calling technology at its Next Gen Finals match, reports Tennis.com.

"Increasingly technology is being used to assist with referee calls," Cooper said, noting the potential of hackers breaking into such systems and altering the outcome of the scoring systems. "With more automation, there are more potential vectors of attack."

Betsy Cooper, CLTC executive director; Doug Arnot, Broadstone Group Chairman; Brian Nelson, LA 2028 General Counsel; Missy Franklin, five-time Olympic Medalist; and Steve Weber, panel moderator and CLTC faculty director
Betsy Cooper, CLTC executive director; Doug Arnot, Broadstone Group Chairman; Brian Nelson, LA 2028 General Counsel; Missy Franklin, five-time Olympic Medalist; and Steve Weber, panel moderator and CLTC faculty director

These type of attacks not only have the potential to alter the outcome of which athletes become gold-medal winners at the Olympics, but also detection of this type of hacking may be more difficult to detect, she added.

If an electronic referee is called into action multiple times over the course of an athlete's performance, a hacker could occasionally slip in to alter the results just enough to tip the win in the target's favor.

Athletes could also face physical harm if cybercriminals were to tamper with automated food systems that dispense such items as protein drinks that have specific nutrients doled out for each athlete. An Olympic swimmer who is allergic to gluten, for example, could get a protein drink laced with gluten after a cybercriminal, or nation-state, seeks to take that athlete out of the games, according to Cooper.

Such attackers are likely to be cybercriminals looking to make money by betting on certain teams or players and altering the results to win, or a nation-state or patriotic national wanting to rig the game so their home team wins, said Doug Arnot, chairman of the Broadstone Group and a panelist at the Olympics cybersecurity panel.

Missy Franklin, a five-time Olympic medalist swimmer and panel member, said as an athlete she is first and foremost worried about physical security, and then secondly, cybersecurity threats that can alter the outcome of a game.

"It's intimidating and threatening," Franklin said, noting technology is used to determine the swimmer who touches the wall first when deciding the outcome of a game.

That said, however, Franklin noted that human referees are also used to make calls on the way a swimmer makes a lap turn or whether they start the race prematurely.

Keeping a Level Playing Field

CLTC made several recommendations to minimize the attack surface at the Olympic Games. One is to balance opportunity and risk by questioning the need to add new technology at the risk of enlarging the attack surface.

Another suggestion is to have a human as a backup to any technology, and to give human referees the ability to verify that the technology used in the games is producing the correct results.

Cybersecurity training on such issues as phishing to social engineering should be provided to all Olympic staff members and officials, according to the report.

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Related Content:

 

 

 

Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Russia Hacked Clinton's Computers Five Hours After Trump's Call
Robert Lemos, Technology Journalist/Data Researcher,  4/19/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
Why We Need a 'Cleaner Internet'
Darren Anstee, Chief Technology Officer at Arbor Networks,  4/19/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-7213
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-24
SmarterTools SmarterMail 16.x before build 6985 allows directory traversal. An authenticated user could delete arbitrary files or could create files in new folders in arbitrary locations on the mail server. This could lead to command execution on the server for instance by putting files inside the w...
CVE-2019-7214
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-24
SmarterTools SmarterMail 16.x before build 6985 allows deserialization of untrusted data. An unauthenticated attacker could run commands on the server when port 17001 was remotely accessible. This port is not accessible remotely by default after applying the Build 6985 patch.
CVE-2019-9734
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-24
aquaverde Aquarius CMS through 4.3.5 writes POST and GET parameters (including passwords) to a log file because of incorrect if/else usage in the Log-File writer component.
CVE-2019-9928
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-24
GStreamer before 1.16.0 has a heap-based buffer overflow in the RTSP connection parser via a crafted response from a server, potentially allowing remote code execution.
CVE-2019-7211
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-24
SmarterTools SmarterMail 16.x before build 6995 has stored XSS. JavaScript code could be executed on the application by opening a malicious email or when viewing a malicious file attachment.