London Olympics ‘ready’ for cyber attacks, says CIO

The London Olympic Games’ IT will be well prepared for cyberattack attempts, according to London 2012 CIO Gerry Pennell.

Speaking at the launch of London 2012 and Atos Origin’s IT testing facility, the Technology Lab, Pennell said that cyber attacks targeting the Olympic Games – including attempts to bring down the Games, interfere with the results data and DDoS attacks on the event’s websites – were to be expected.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett also warned about the impact of cyberattacks on the Olympics in 2009.

Pennell said: “We will get cyberattacks, for sure. Previous Games have always been attacked, so we will be attacked.

“We are working with partners and government to make sure we have got the right defences.”

By opening the Technology Lab, Atos and London 2012 were launching 200,000 of testing of the entire Olympic Games’ IT infrastructure, to ensure that it is resilient, adaptable to change and secure. For example, scenarios such as a data centre fire, or a virus, will be tested in real-time.

The equipment used in the lab will be the same used in venues during the games, and includes 880 Acer PCs, 130 servers and 110 network switches.

Pennell said that he had a team dedicated to the issue of cyber security, and Atos Origin, the main IT partner for the Olympic Games, said that design and monitoring of the event’s IT infrastructure was crucial.

“Most of the system is outflow of data, with very little coming in. And we have systems that monitor anything that happens on the network that is abnormal,” explained Patrick Adiba, CEO of Atos Origin for Iberia, Olympics and major events.

Critical IT systems that run the Games are also “partitioned” from the technology that is available to the public, added Pennell.

Atos, which has been the major IT provider for five Olympic Games, was confident that the London 2012 event would be well-protected.

“We have never had a critical system attack – no one has come close. We block it first,” said Adiba, who added that all the systems were backed up at least twice, sometimes more.

Meanwhile, Pennell said that sustainability was a key concern for London 2012, and the organisation was working with partners to come up with a suitable disposal strategy for the infrastructure, which could include making computers available to the education sector.

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