Paris 2024 braces for unprecedented cybersecurity challenge

Paris 2024 is preparing to confront an unparalleled cybersecurity challenge as organizers anticipate significant pressure on the upcoming summer Games. With threats from organized crime, activists, and states looming over the July 26-August 11 Olympics and the August 28-September 8 Paralympics, Paris 2024 has collaborated closely with the French National Agency for Information Security (ANSSI), as well as cybersecurity firms Cisco and Eviden, to mitigate the impact of potential cyber attacks.

Vincent Strubel, the director general of ANSSI, acknowledged the inevitability of attacks but stressed the importance of minimizing their impact on the Olympics. With extensive testing conducted across 500 sites, including competition venues and local collectives, Strubel expressed confidence in Paris 2024’s readiness, operating from a discreetly located cybersecurity operations center.

To bolster their defenses, Paris 2024 has engaged “ethical hackers” to stress-test their systems and leveraged artificial intelligence for threat assessment. Franz Regul, managing director for IT at Paris 2024, emphasized AI’s role in distinguishing between minor disruptions and catastrophic breaches, anticipating a tenfold increase in cybersecurity events compared to the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Eric Greffier, head of partnerships at CISCO, highlighted the rapidly evolving nature of cybersecurity, likening four years in this field to a century elsewhere. The specter of past attacks, such as the “Olympic Destroyer” virus during the Pyeongchang Winter Games, looms large, with concerns over potential malevolent targeting by state actors like Russia, as hinted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

The backdrop against which the Games will unfold includes ongoing global complexities, such as Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and Israel’s confrontation with Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union.