Wired discusses why the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018 are an especially difficult task for the International Olympic Committee, primarily because of the location of South Korea and the regional geopolitical climate:
The increased connectivity and use of technology has opened the games up to more vulnerabilities and potential cyberattacks. Not only are the Olympic Games available to view worldwide through a variety of broadcasting platforms, but smart technologies are now also increasingly used in the performance and judging of the sports themselves.
While most of the previous attacks have focused on ticket scams, availability of IT services and personal data, there are now more substantial cyber threats to stadium operations, infrastructure, broadcasting and participants and visitors to the games. There might also be cyberattacks that compromise devices to spread propaganda or misinformation.
More recent Olympic Games have experienced attacks on broadcast operations and power systems seeking to limit viewer access to live broadcasts. For example, the 2012 London Olympics were hit by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from both alleged nation state hackers and hacktivists. While these attacks have had limited success, it is possible that large scale disruptions to broadcasting could have severe consequences to events that rely on a large global audience and sponsorship.
Cybersecurity experts have already expressed concern over a number of cyber threats to Pyeongchang, particularly in relation to nation state activity. South Korea has previously accused North Korea of cyberattacks on the country, including one in 2013 that wiped numerous hard drives at South Korean banks and broadcasters. Last month, a cybersecurity firm also uncovered a sophisticated and targeted cyberattack aimed to steal data from South Korean organisations associated with the games.
Tokyo 2020 is expected to be the first Internet-of-Things (IoT) games. Imagine the size, scale, and magnitude of such an attack surface, and how difficult it will be to defend against the extremely sophisticated nation state attacker. South Korea really only has North Korea as its primary, so-called enemy in the region. However, consider Japan’s history and how that affects the geopolitics for Tokyo 2020.
I am concerned about how serious the nation is considering the threat. Without a strong threat intelligence foundation, I truly wonder what form of situational awareness the country has and how well they understand what they will be facing.
It is February 2018, and I am increasingly concerned about the preparedness. Maybe I am being overly cautious, but I really expected to see the country knee-deep in vulnerability assessments, situational awareness, and strong, well rounded threat intelligence. At this point I see nothing to make me feel comfortable, but hope I am just not privy to whatever special access programs are being executed to address these concerns.