Olympic Destroyer Redux: Paris 2024 Prepares for Cybersecurity Assault

In 2018, a computer virus called "Olympic Destroyer" was used to attack the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Are cyber attacks on Paris 2024 coming?

by Sededin Dedovic
Olympic Destroyer Redux: Paris 2024 Prepares for Cybersecurity Assault
© Aurelien Meunier / Getty Images

The organizers anticipate immense pressure this summer. Organized crime, activists, and states will be the main threats during the Olympic Games from July 26 to August 11 and the Paralympic Games from August 28 to September 8.

The French National Agency for Information Security (ANSSI) and cybersecurity companies Cisco and Eviden are striving to limit the impact of cyber attacks. "We cannot prevent all attacks; there will be no Games without attacks.

But we must limit their impact on the Olympics," ANSSI director Vincent Strubel told reporters. "Paris 2024 will be operated from a cybersecurity center. The Games face an unprecedented level of threat. We have also conducted an unprecedented level of preparatory work, so I think we are ahead of the attackers." Paris is paying "ethical hackers" to test their systems and using artificial intelligence to help them triage threats.

"Artificial intelligence helps us differentiate between disruption and disaster," said Franc Regul, IT director at Paris 2024. "We expect the number of cybersecurity-related events to increase tenfold compared to Tokyo 2021." "In terms of cybersecurity, four years are equivalent to a century," explained Cisco's partnership chief, Erik Grefer.

Virus named "Olympic Destroyer"

In 2018, a computer virus named "Olympic Destroyer" was used in an attack on the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. While Moscow denied any involvement, the US Department of Justice stated in 2020 that it had charged six hackers from Russian intelligence agencies with a four-year series of hacks that included attacks on the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

"We would love to have a single adversary, but we are investigating everyone and everything. Naming potential attackers is not our role; that is the role of the state," said Strubel. Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that there is no doubt that Russia will maliciously target the Paris Olympics.

The Games will take place amid a complex global context, including the war in Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, reported Reuters.