450 million cyberattacks attempted on Japan’s Olympic Games infrastructure: NTT

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The NTT Corporation, which provided a wide range of telecommunications and network security services for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, said there were more than 450 million attempted cyber attacks during the event. in July.

NTT officials said none of the attacks were successful and added that the games went off without a hitch. But the number of attacks was 2.5 times the number seen at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Andrea MacLean of NTT compared the fight against cybersecurity to Harry Potter’s final fight against Voldemort, calling the effort to protect the event “Herculean.”

“Cybercriminals certainly viewed the Games – and its associated supply chain – as a high-value target with low tolerance for downtime. After all, crime follows opportunity. And with connected stadiums, fan engagement platforms, and full digital replicas of sporting venues and the events themselves becoming the norm, there is a lot of IT infrastructure and data to target – and via a multitude of components, ”said MacLean.

She explained that NTT’s approach to protecting the event included “continuous monitoring and analysis of threat intelligence, SOC services, a comprehensive set of security solutions and an expert team of over 200 specialists. cybersecurity “.

MacLean said that among the 450 million attacks, NTT saw Emotet malware, email spoofing and phishing, as well as fake websites believed to be associated with the Olympics.

“Sporting events like the Olympics, the Tour de France and the Indy 500, for example, are the definition of real-time environments,” MacLean said. “Once started, there is no room for downtime. And with a highly distributed team and limited physical presence, agile technologies capable of responding to any threat are essential.”

NTT provided a comprehensive report on the games, noting that it provided both communications services for the operation of the Games and a broadcast network to connect the Games venues with the Tokyo Big Sight which served as the broadcast hub. international.

“NTT has built a local network for the venues, including the 43 Games venues, the IBC, the main press center and the Olympic Village, providing various communication services including video distribution and landlines to associates . All Games venues have been turned to 5G mobile networks, whose commercial services had started in 2020 in Japan, to offer mobile phone services, ”NTT said, adding that they had a total of 10,000 employees supporting the event.

“During the Games, unauthorized communications targeting vulnerabilities in terminals were observed, but NTT responded by blocking communications.”

NTT said it has organized several cybersecurity training programs and performed pre-event simulations to prepare its cybersecurity team.

In its preliminary report released ahead of the Games, NTT predicted it would face nation-state cyberattacks, ransomware attacks, and disinformation attacks, some of which could come from threatening state-sponsored actors. Russian, North Korean and Chinese.

They noted that cybercriminals were likely to deploy Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware attacks, or attacks on critical infrastructure.

The FBI issued a private industry alert ahead of the Games, urging organizations working with the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to prepare for a wave of “DDoS attacks, ransomware, social engineering, phishing or insider threat campaigns to block or disrupt live broadcasts of the event. , steal and potentially hack and disclose or hold sensitive data hostage, or impact the public or private digital infrastructure supporting the Olympic Games. “

The notice then referred to the Pyeongchang cyberattack that took place during the previous Olympic Games in February 2018, in which Russian hackers deployed OlympicDestroyer malware and damaged web servers during the opening ceremony. .

According to the advisory, the hackers “obscured the true source of the malware by emulating code used by a North Korean group, thus creating the potential for misattribution,” the advisory said. In October 2020, the Justice Ministry indicted six Russian intelligence agents over the attack on the Pyeongchang Games.

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