September 14 - McAfee, the world's largest dedicated security technology company, has unveiled survey results highlighting a worrying lack of awareness amongst MPs, business leaders and journalists about the extent of the cyber threat facing the London 2012 Olympic Games.
When asked to rate the greatest threat to the 2012 Olympics, only two per cent of respondents named cyber threat as the biggest compared to almost half of all respondents who believed a threat was more likely to come from a terror attack or transport failure.
The survey findings suggest there is a continuing failure to grasp the importance of the cyber threat despite the Government categorising the possibility of a cyber attack as a tier one threat in the National Security Strategy, as well as warnings from London 2012 that attacks are inevitable.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and British Olympic Association (BOA) have already allegedly been the subject of cyber attacks along with the networks of 72 organisations according to McAfee research, while Atos Origin, London 2012 IT partner, claim 14 million malware events were recorded per day during the Beijing 2008 Olympics, 400 of which had the potential to impact on the Games although they were all fortunately blocked.
In the first three months of 2011, McAfee identified more than six million examples of malicious software, which far exceeds any records for a similar time period, while there has also been a 76 per cent increase on attacks on android phones.
"At a time when cyber attacks on organisations like the IMF [International Monetary Fund] are hitting the headlines, it is important that our lawmakers and opinion formers understand the importance of the work being done to protect the London Olympic Games," said David Blunkett, former Home Secretary and chair of the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA).
"They must use it as a springboard for a national campaign of online vigilance."
The survey showed that 52 per cent of business leaders, 64 per cent of politicians and 62 per cent of journalists feel it is unlikely that there will be a large scale cyber attack during London 2012, while 74 per of business people, 79 per cent of politicians and 80 per cent of journalists believe that if an attack took place it would not compromise the Games.
Exactly 41 per cent of respondents rated transport as the greatest threat to the success of the Games followed by 38 per cent who rated terror attack as the biggest potential threat.
While only 2 per cent considered a cyber attack the largest threat, 89 per cent of business leaders, 79 per cent of MPs and 83 per cent of journalists felt that the risk of cyber attack will grow in the future.
"The organisers of the London Olympic Games and those in Government tackling the cyber issue are doing a tremendous job," said Rene Roersma, director of global public sector at McAfee EMEA.
"However, the fact remains that 8,600 new crime websites are detected each day and a further 75 million new pieces of cybercrime software will be generated by the end of 2011."
The survey was conducted between June 17 and July 12 this year when a series of successful, high-profile cyber-attacks were being reported on the International Monetary Fund, the Pentagon and United States Senate.
The hacking of private files on millions of Nintendo and Sony games users were also being reported at this time, while the Government's Counter Terrorism Strategy claimed that extremists have called for a cyber-jihad following the death of Taliban leader Osama Bin Laden.
"The raising of the cyber threat to tier 1 status within the National Security Strategy and George Osborne's comments at Google Zeitgeist conference that government is subject to 20,000 attacks each month, show that the issue is being addressed," added Roersma.
"The way forward is for civil government of all nations and defence organisations, including NATO, to continue working together alongside industry to safeguard, not just the Olympics, but also our critical infrastructure, commerce and national security."
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August 2011: Exclusive - BOA fear they were victims of cyber hacking in build-up to Beijing 2008