Fear in Paris, less than a year before the 2024 Olympics. Between the organizational and logistical challenges slips another threat, moving, furtive, and certainly not the least. A few months before the global sporting event, which should focus the eyes of the whole world on Paris, it is the cybersecurity of the event which is worrying. According to the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (Cojo), Paris 2024 must expect “ten times more” alerts on cyber security than during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. The Japanese games had however suffered by less than 4 billion threats. As a reminder, the figure was 500 million in Rio in 2016, and 200 million in London in 2012, summarizes L’Express.
“The question is not whether the event will be attacked but when and how. […] It is plausible that one or more information systems contributing to the organization of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are already compromise and ultimately make it possible to launch a potentially coordinated attack on several sites”, warned before the summer a note from the command of the gendarmerie in cyberspace, revealed by BFMTV. The main risks are: sabotage, data leaks, image damage and fraud.
Nearly 15 million spectators and accredited people are expected to attend the events, the vast majority of which will take place in Paris and Île-de-France. For visitors’ personal data, the risk of a ransomware attack aimed at “taking information hostage” for money is particularly present. “Technology is everywhere,” warned Paris 2024’s deputy director for information systems security, Franz Regul, during a press briefing at the end of November. Telephones, computers, connected objects, Wi-Fi networks… “To cause trouble and annoy the country, no need to target Cojo”, judges the boss of the cybersecurity company DarkTrace, Karim Benslimane, interviewed by L’Express. Hospitals, stations and transport, regularly targeted, will be just as strategic during the Games.
The threat is all the stronger as the current geopolitical context is shaken by the conflict in the Middle East, in which France has been criticized for its shaky position, and the war in Ukraine, which led Cojo to ban the flag Russian Games, and the threat to cybersecurity represented by China. In short, the 2024 Olympic Games offer a clear avenue for troublemakers and those who would like to discredit France.
So cybersecurity, like athletes, prepares its games. At the end of 2022, the budget dedicated to cybersecurity was extended by 10 million euros for the Olympics. The American Cisco and the French Atos, traditional partners of the Games, together oversee the systems, accompanied by the French cybersecurity policeman, Anssi, recalls L’Express. The Law of May 19, 2023 on the conduct of the games establishes at the same time that the organizers will not be able to use any facial recognition technique, nor any biometric identification system and will not be able to use biometric data. Data less likely to fall into the wrong hands.