Japan beefs up efforts to prevent Olympics cyberattacks
Countermeasures to be taken after Britain and US accuse Russia of planning to disrupt the 2021 Games
Tokyo — Japan said on Tuesday it would take countermeasures to ensure the 2021 Tokyo Olympics are not derailed by cyberattacks after Britain and the US accused Russia of orchestrating efforts to disrupt the Games.
Olympics organisers reported no effect on their operations for the 2020 Games, which were postponed until 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Britain and the US on Monday condemned what they said were malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Japanese chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato declined to give details but said Japan would make every effort to protect the Games from possible hacking attempts.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to malicious cyberattacks that threaten democracy,” Kato told a news conference, adding that Japan was gathering and analysing information and was in close contact with Britain and the US.
“The Olympics are a major international event that attract attention, and cybersecurity measures are extremely important.”
British officials said on Monday the hackers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against Tokyo Games organisers. They declined to give specific details about the latest attacks or say whether they were successful but said they had targeted Games organisers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.
The organising committee said in a statement they had already made extensive cybersecurity preparations and that there had been little disruption to its platforms.
“While we have constantly monitored various types of cyberattack on the digital platforms owned by Tokyo 2020, no significant impact has been observed in our operations,” spokesperson Masa Takaya said.
Olympic sponsor Panasonic Corporation said they were strengthening their global monitoring efforts, adding, “We did not detect any evidence of an attack.”
A representative for fellow sponsor Toyota declined to comment.
A string of hacking attempts have been conducted against international sporting organisations, which Western officials and cybersecurity experts say were orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offences, including the Tokyo Games. An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson said cybersecurity was one of their priorities.
“The IOC and the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games have identified cyber security as a priority area and invest a lot to offer the Olympic Games the best cyber security environment possible,” the spokesperson said. “Given the nature of the topic, we do not divulge those measures.”
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