Who can protect the Olympics from cyber attack? Jerry can!.…I mean Francis Maude can

Contributor:  Andrew Elwell
Posted:  05/04/2012  12:00:00 AM EDT
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Tags:   cyber

At the International Centre for Defence Studies (ICDS) in Estonia this week, UK Minister for Cyber Security Francis Maude discussed the “immense possibilities, and the huge challenges presented by the cyber revolution”.

Maude’s speech comes as fears about a cyber attack at the London 2012 Olympics continue to plague the government and organising committee.

“This year’s Olympics in the United Kingdom will not be immune to cyber attacks by those who would seek to disrupt the Games,” said Maude.

“We have rightly been preparing for sometime – a dedicated unit will help guard the London Olympics against cyber attack – we are determined to have a safe and secure Games.”

The UK will need to be sure that it is not relying on determination alone because, as Maude reminded the audience, “the Beijing Olympics saw 12 million cyber security incidents during their Olympics.”

Estonia suffered a devastating cyber attack in 2007 after its banks, ministries and newspapers were targeted by hackers. In January internet security firm McAfee classified Estonia as one of the most prepared countries in the world to prevent another cyber attack as a result. Maude was in the country to learn some of these lessons.

“I know that here in Estonia, your State Information System Authority (RIA), and your Cyber Defence League are doing vital work in increasing business and government’s resilience to cyber attack – I am discussing as part of my visit ways in which we can learn from each others’ experiences.”

Not relying on determination alone

Last year the Home Office released its Audit and Review of Olympic & Paralympic Safety and Security Planning report, which was a comprehensive evaluation of security preparedness measures at the Games. Among its key conclusions was that more needed to be done in the cyber domain.

“The need for a strengthened approach in mitigating the risks of cyber threats was identified. Cyber threats may come from a number of sources,” the report said.

David Cameron drew his line in the sand on the issue when he allocated £650 million to increase the UK’s cyber resilience and security infrastructure shortly after becoming PM. Following this the government also released its Cyber Security Strategy, which details the safeguards required to ensure the country’s cyber networks are secured against potential digital threats, putting it on a par with physical attacks for the first time . The strategy followed the Foreign Office’s London Conference on Cyberspace in November.

Hugo Rosemont, Policy Advisor for Security and Resilience at trade association ADS Group, is encouraged by the government’s work in this area, saying that “to their credit … there has been a greater emphasis towards improving the country’s cyber security infrastructure” since coming into office in 2010.

“So, while the UK’s cyber security strategy is emerging and evolving quite radically anyway,” Rosemont says, “there are specific systems that will also be required for the Games,” as identified in the Home Office’s Audit and Review.

Andrew Elwell Contributor:   Andrew Elwell

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