Japan to Take Countermeasures to Prevent Cyber Attacks from Derailing Tokyo Games

By Ami Miyazaki and Jack Tarrant | October 20, 2020

Japan said on Tuesday it would take countermeasures to ensure next year’s Tokyo Olympics are not derailed by cyber attacks after Britain and the United States accused Russia of orchestrating efforts to disrupt the Games.

Olympics organizers reported no significant impact on their operations for the 2020 Games, which were postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain and the United States on Monday condemned what they said were a series of malicious cyber attacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the allegations, attributing them to “Russophobia.” He told reporters: “Russia has never carried out any hacking activities against the Olympics.”

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan would make every effort to protect the Games from possible hacking attempts.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to malicious cyber attacks that threaten democracy,” Kato told a news conference, adding that Japan was gathering and analyzing information and in close contact with Britain and the United States.

“The Olympics are a major international event that attract attention, and cyber-security measures are extremely important.”

British officials said on Monday the hackers from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against Tokyo Games organizers.

They declined to give specific details about the latest attacks or say whether they were successful but said they had targeted Games organizers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

The organizing committee said in a statement they had already made extensive cyber-security preparations and that there had been little disruption to its platforms.

Doping Scandal

“While we have constantly monitored various types of cyber attack on the digital platforms owned by Tokyo 2020, no significant impact has been observed in our operations,” spokesman Masa Takaya said.

Olympic sponsor Panasonic Corp said in a statement it was strengthening its global monitoring efforts, adding: “We did not detect any evidence of an attack.”

A representative for fellow sponsor Toyota Motor Corp declined to comment.

A string of hacking attempts have been conducted against international sporting organizations which Western officials and cyber-security experts say were orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Russia was banned from the world’s top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offenses, including the Tokyo Games.

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman said cyber security was one of their priorities.

“The IOC and the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games have identified cyber security as a priority area and invest a lot to offer the Olympic Games the best cyber-security environment possible,” the spokesman told Reuters in an email.

“Given the nature of the topic, we do not divulge those measures.”

(Additional reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto and Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo and Alex Marrow in Moscow; writing by Elaine Lies; editing by Peter Rutherford, William Maclean )

Photograph: People wearing masks walk past the Olympic rings near the New National Stadium in Tokyo, on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong.

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