Rio 2016 Olympics gets ready to face cyber security issues

Olympics 2016 Rio
The ongoing Olympics 2016 sporting event in Brazil will be the main location for a series of cyber attacks this year, predicts IT security analysts.

Both visitors to the event in Rio, the capital of Brazil, and travelers can be susceptible to counterfeit tickets and fraudulent travel packages which may cause loss of personal information and financial data.

Rio will be hit with at least half a million people, in preparations of which many telecom and tech giants have invested to ensure secure and speedy network infrastructure. Also, Rio is predicted to be the most social Olympics till date with Snapchat and Gen Z evolving and Instagram having passed 400 million users with live streaming available on platforms like Periscope and Meerkat, alongside recently launched Facebook Live.

Owing to economic crisis in Brazil, a $255 million, or a 12 percent budget cut was announced by the government to the Olympic Committee in March 2016, from the previous $2.09 billion to be invested in Rio for the Olympics. Surveys have suggested that users are eager to share favorite events, iconic ceremonies and unexpected moments in real-time, hence increasing the data usage tremendously.

Visa, the exclusive payment provider of the Olympic Games, has created and managed the entire payment system infrastructure and network throughout all venues including stadiums, press centers, point-of-sale has implemented 4,000 POS terminals across key Olympic venues, as well as 11 ATMs in partnership with Bradesco.

Visa is projecting an estimate of 400,000-500,000 international visitors during the month of August, for whom the group has released a series of recommended travel tips, directing cardholders to opt both SMS notification and mobile Location Confirmation for safer use of their Visa services.

Riverbed Technology surveyed on potential critical business application and network strain from employees streaming Olympic coverage and accessing associated content online at the office, while also suggesting possible solutions, adding that 85 percent of the companies plan to more monitor network + app performance during summer games.

The vast majority of companies, i.e. 85 percent, will monitor the performance of their applications and networks, including Wi-Fi, to counter the potential strain due to employees accessing Olympic content, with 42 percent among them probably monitoring more closely. Only 2 percent companies were found unlikely to monitor different from routine Olympics.

While companies expect employees to access Olympic content using the company networks like Wi-Fi, with 48 percent using desktops and laptops followed by 34 percent using smartphones and the rest 18 percent using tablets or other non-smartphone devices.

While 43 percent companies were surveyed by Riverbed to be claiming that their organizations could safeguard critical applications during high network traffic events such as the Olympics, 12 percent were not confident on the same.

Also, majority of company employees, around 69 percent said that they have experienced more than one episode of issues, with 70 percent of companies limiting employees from accessing Olympic content through company networks, including Wi-Fi, out of which 24 percent will definitely limit content and the rest 46 percent thinking on probably limiting content.

TEK System said in its survey that the number of mobile sports fans at high risk for cyber threats has doubled during the games, with increase in online sports betting and social networking being the major contributors to increased cyber security risk, with betting site accesses also doubling during the event.

Around 72 percent IT professionals expect moderate to major increase in internet usage at their organizations due to the Summer Games with more than 79 percent acknowledging that their networks will be at greater risk due to increased internet usage.

Among the employees, around 8 in 10 will not be issuing special guidelines or communications regarding use of network resources to view/interact with the Summer Games with 50 percent not even introducing additional measures such as filters, blockers or firewalls specifically for the games.

With majority of respondents, around 64 percent, tracking internet usage associated with a specific event, the rest do not. The lack of specific guidelines combined with the lack of special preventive measures by such a high number can lead to a detrimental effect on network security.

Organizations should undergo thorough risk assessment on their networks to determine the level of preparedness required. Apart from usual users, companies like Coca Cola, GE, Visa, Samsung and others are also on the risk of cyber security threats, said a FastCompany report.

With 51 countries backing Brazil to prevent cyber scams, US has deployed more than a 1000 spies, with a joint number of hundreds of analysts, law enforcement and special operations personnel being already present in Rio de Janeiro, for checking via human intelligence, spy satellites, electronic eavesdropping, and cyber and social media monitoring.

With a history of the London 2012 Olympics where the team of cyber professionals assembled for the Games defended 11,000 malicious requests per second and blocked 212 million malicious connection attempts, the number of attempted attacks are likely to be even higher in this year’s event.

The advised general measures by all surveys include taking care of laptop and mobile devices, ensuring that the system has whole disk encryption, refraining from public Wi-Fi use, avoiding use of promotional USB sticks, and using a laptop privacy filter on your screen.

X-Force special report from IBM on Brazil found that the cost of cyber attacks was increasing, with Brazil losing more than $8 billion to internet crime in 2014 and in 2015 bank fraud cost the country’s top institutions more than $615 million.

Officially, over $500 million has been devoted to security, both online and off, with the Ministry of Defense investing hundreds of millions in anti-terrorism training.

Vina Krishnan
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