Possible Cyberattack

Chris Swagler | April 15th, 2024


The Summer Olympics and tensions over the Ukraine conflict are likely to make Paris an appealing target for various breaching attempts, including those from threat operating countries, according to France’s top cybersecurity official. The head of ANSSI, a cybersecurity organization, stated that the Olympics faced threats from unfriendly countries, cybercriminals brandishing ransomware, and Russian-aligned threat operators who used their computer talents to spread political messages. French officials were speaking with cybersecurity officials. The Paris Olympics will take place from July 26 to August 11. A cyberattack disrupted the internet during the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Security companies promptly blamed Russia and the Fancy Bear threat operating group, which is connected to Moscow’s intelligence services, for the attack. The Paris opening ceremony might be the target of a state-sponsored cyberattack. No country has been identified, but the French President has no doubt that Russia will target the Paris Olympics. The 2024 Summer Olympics, like any global event of its scale and visibility, presents an attractive target for cyber threat actors. As the world shifts its focus to the games, businesses across the globe could face significant security risks. Cybercriminals will aim to exploit the distractions and events during the Olympics to carry out attacks, potentially leading to substantial financial and reputational damage.

Even though Russian athletes will compete in Paris, they will not do so under their national flag. Russia’s illegal takeover of Ukrainian territory has resulted them being banned from the Olympics. The geopolitical landscape, including the war in Ukraine, will play a factor when it comes to the threat assessment for the Summer Games because actions by threat actors is a real possibility and the Olympic Committee is preparing for it. However, it’s another real factor when it comes to breaching and a lot of threat actors are pro-Russian. Since the war in Ukraine began two years ago, cyberattacks by Russian threat operators have increased significantly. The majority of the cyberattacks were simple, with the goal of temporarily shutting down websites or servers. There have been numerous denial-of-service attacks targeting French institutions since France has made political gestures of support for Ukraine.

France is preparing for ransomware attacks on companies and organizations in addition to potential state-sponsored or state-aligned breaching attempts. Like the United States, France has experienced a surge in ransomware attacks in recent attacks, affecting local governments and hospitals. The prediction is that the illegal operations will expand during the Olympic Games and expect organized cybercrimes. For people looking to make money, the Olympics can be like Black Friday every day for two weeks. During the Olympics, companies, who make a lot of business, are expected to see an increase in pressure in paying ransoms.

For the previous two years, sports federations, stadiums, and local governments in locations where events would be held have collaborated with the ANSSI on security issues and have been training to improve their responses. The goal is to prevent the worst attacks on the most critical infrastructure and help train others ensuring minor attacks don’t spread and become catastrophic. During the Olympics to combat the attacks, the organization will work to get information about real and potential cyberattacks. The organization’s responsibility is to provide timely information to the media, to our international partners, and what’s happening to prevent the same cyberattacks.

The Impact on Businesses

The impact of potential cyber threats during the 2024 Olympics on businesses could be multifaceted. Firstly, there is the risk of direct attacks on businesses involved in the Olympics, such as sponsors, vendors, media outlets, and hospitality providers. These entities are likely to be targeted due to their high-profile involvement in the games and the valuable data they hold. Secondly, there’s an indirect risk for other businesses. Cybercriminals often launch widespread phishing campaigns during large events, disguising malicious emails as updates or news about the event. Employees who are following the Olympics may be tricked into clicking these links, inadvertently introducing malware into their corporate networks. Lastly, the global attention on the Olympics may provide a smokescreen for cyber attacks on unrelated businesses. Security teams might be distracted by the high-profile event, possibly overlooking regular security operations and potentially missing critical threats.

Threat Actors Taking Advantage of Distractions

Cyber threat actors are opportunistic by nature and are known to take advantage of large-scale events like the Olympics to carry out their nefarious activities. They exploit the heightened interest and lowered guard of the public to launch more successful attacks. Phishing campaigns disguised as Olympics-related news or updates are common, as are attacks designed to disrupt the event itself. In 2018, for example, the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang experienced a cyber attack during the opening ceremony that caused a disruption in internet and broadcast systems. Businesses must be prepared for an increased threat level during the 2024 Olympics. This includes enhancing their security measures, conducting thorough risk assessments, and ensuring their incident response plans are up-to-date and effective.

The potential cyber threats to the 2024 Summer Olympics are a serious concern for businesses worldwide. While the focus is understandably on the games themselves, businesses must not lose sight of their cybersecurity during this period. Preparation is key, and businesses should ensure their cybersecurity measures are robust and adaptable to changing threat landscapes. Employee education is also crucial; ensuring staff understand the risks and how to identify potential threats can significantly reduce a company’s vulnerability. In the digital age, the Olympics is more than just a sporting event – it’s a global stage for cyber threat actors. Businesses must be ready to protect their operations, their data, and their reputation during the 2024 Summer Olympics. At SpearTip, we’re a trusted provider of breach coaches and carriers. Our team specializes in incident response capabilities and handling breaches with industry-standard response times. Our onsite Security Operations Center is staffed 24 hours a day, working in a continuous investigative cycle, ready to respond to events at a moment’s notice. SpearTip’s engineers and analysts within our 24/7/365 Security Operations Center (SOC) utilize the ShadowSpear Platform to respond to active threats by continuously monitoring your environment. The SOC is built to relieve the burden of cybersecurity from your team by acting and informing organizations. The ShadowSpear Platform is an integrable security solution with the combined capabilities of SIEM, AV, MDR, anti-phishing tools, and much more. Our Advisory Services are your solution to safeguard and counter complex cyber threats. Our team is equipped to address security issues, including ransomware, business email compromise, and insider threats. By identifying weak points in your system and addressing them, we continually work towards improving your security posture.

If your company is experiencing a breach, call our Security Operations Center at 833.997.7327 to speak directly with an engineer.


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