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BT: London 2012 cyber attacks did not materialise

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Transport for London expects the capital to be Lost Device Central this summer
Transport for London expects the capital to be Lost Device Central this summer

The biggest threats to the London Olympics were script kiddies and infected laptops connecting to the corporate network, according to BT.

Speaking to the Register, BT's global head of secure customer advocacy, Phil Packman, said that the games were notable for the absence of a major cyber attack after warnings from officials at previous hosts Beijing and Vancouver said that they would ‘be run ragged'.

He said: “We geared up for complex attacks from various actors and the reality is they were unsophisticated and perpetrated by children.

“We were geared up specifically to look at something sinister and the reality was much more amateurish. But this brought its own challenges – the attacks were a lot more sporadic and less obvious. On day two or three they attacked the wrong company because they got the URL of a sponsor wrong.”

One distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by a hacktivist on the first day of the games, in retaliation for the displacement of Occupy protesters from Stratford, was attempted but BT's four 10GB pipes and Akamai's content distribution service meant taking down the infrastructure proved too difficult.

“Within one hour of the Anonymous attack the feedback was ‘we're not getting anywhere, let's attack the sponsors',” Packman explained.

Packman also said that the only other major security challenge was the arrival of 25,000 journalists, all of whom required unfettered access to the network on their own devices, with some writers less than enthused by BT's attempts to locate and clean up any infected machines.

While Packman said that attack traffic averaged less than one per cent of total volumes, with most of that figure accounted for by 'background noise' rather than anything specifically targeted at the games, the real story will be told by Atos, who dealt with IT security at London 2012.

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