London Olympics threatened by cyberattack in 2012, British officials reveal for first time

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The 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony was threatened by a cyberattack that aimed to cut off power to the globally televised event, British officials revealed for the first time Monday.

“There was a credible [threat of] attack on the electricity infrastructure supporting the Games,” Olympic cyber-security head Oliver Hoare told the British Broadcasting Corp. in the first revelation of such a plot.

Nearly a billion people watched the opening ceremony — an hours-long extravaganza authored by British movie director Danny Boyle — so even a brief interruption to the power would have been a terrible blow to national prestige and a potential publicity bonanza for the attackers.   

“Thirty seconds at the opening ceremony with the lights going down would have been catastrophic in terms of reputational hit,” said Mr. Hoare.

He said he was awakened at 4:45 a.m. on the morning of the opening ceremony by a call from GCHQ — the British equivalent of the National Security Agency — which is responsible for guarding U.K. infrastructure from cyberattack. 

Mr. Hoare said the possibility of a cyberattack on the power infrastructure of the games was something that organizers were well-prepared for, having rehearsed their response five times.

Nevertheless, he said, he watched the opening ceremony with “trepidation” and “twitched every time the lights dimmed.”

In the end the threat turned out to be a false alarm, the BBC reported.


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About the Author
Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman

Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for The Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003. His reporting on the Sept. 11 Commission and the tortuous process by which some of its recommendations finally became ...

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