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BT Olympic Security Chief: Cyber Terrorism No Real Threat

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Most significant threat to London 2012 website came from hacktivists, as danger of digital terrorism practically non-existent

The CEO of BT’s security division has claimed that Cyber terrorism remains an almost nonexistent threat and was not something that those responsible for securing Olympic Games systems had to deal with.

Mark Hughes said terrorists featured in its risk assessments for hosting the site but it saw no attacks and revealed there were 212 million malicious attempts on the London 2012 website, but only 77 separate tickets requiring human action

BT Olympic 1Cyber terrorism – no big deal

“It was a factor we put in our threat analysis…looking at what type of things they would be doing,” Hughes told TechWeekEurope, during the RSA 2013 Conference in Amsterdam.

“It wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t something we had seen a lot of.

“The overall threat of terrorism was fairly significant and a subset of that could have been cyber terrorism.”

He said BT did not have any direct contact with GCHQ or the government on cyber terrorism related to actual attacks on the Games. LOCOG, the Games organiser, held daily meetings with ministers to discuss any action that was needed on threats hitting Olympic systems.

The BT team did not see any targeted attacks on its workers either, meaning it faced no particularly sophisticated campaigns.

Hacktivists were a serious problem, however, organising at least one campaign a day targeting the website, with distributed denial of service (DDoS) and defacement attempts two kinds of common attack on the Games’ site.

“[We looked at] the stuff that was really going to cause us trouble in 2012. Hacktivists were pretty well top of the list and we saw that happen,” Hughes added.

“We say some rudimentary DNS reflection kinds of attack. They weren’t particularly sophisticated and didn’t generate massive traffic, but it was really during 2012 that we started seeing, the beginnings of the stuff we’re now seeing.”

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