- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Hackers and cybercriminals of all sorts may seek to disrupt or otherwise attack the already delayed 2020 Olympics, the FBI warned ahead of the Summer Games set to start Friday in Tokyo.

The FBI issued an alert Monday warning about the possibility of hackers launching attacks on private-sector targets either directly or indirectly related to the upcoming Olympics.

While the FBI said it was unaware of any specific threat on the Olympics or a related entity, it noted there is potential for malicious cyberactivities to occur and encouraged vigilance.

The FBI specifically warned about the likelihood of hackers using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, ransomware, social engineering, phishing or insider threats to meddle with the Olympics.

Hackers risk causing problems ranging from disrupting live broadcasts and stealing and leaking private information, to holding sensitive data hostage and disabling Olympics infrastructure, the FBI noted.

“Malicious activity could disrupt multiple functions, including media broadcasting environments, hospitality, transit, ticketing or security,” the FBI said in the five-page private industry notification.

“Large, high-profile events provide an opportunity for criminal and nation-state cyber actors to make money, sow confusion, increase their notoriety, discredit adversaries and advance ideological goals,” the FBI explained elsewhere in the bulletin. “The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics may attract additional attention from these actors, as they are the first to be viewed solely through broadcast and digital platforms due to the prohibition on in-person spectators.”

The FBI recommended following cybersecurity best practices, such as keeping computer systems up to date, as well as providing end-user awareness and training to prevent employees from being hacked.

Postponed from last year because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 Olympics are set to take place in and around Tokyo until the closing ceremony, scheduled for Aug. 8.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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