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United Kingdom Privacy Security

Fears of Olympic Cyber Attack Detailed After Snooping Revealed 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the timing-is-everything dept.
First time accepted submitter Dr_Ish writes "The BBC is reporting that the opening ceremonies of last the Olympics last year were potentially subject to a cyber attack that could have cut all the lights and power. Of course, it did not happen. However, the interesting question is whether this is real, or whether this is a FUD story promoted by GCHQ to help shore up some credibility issues."
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Fears of Olympic Cyber Attack Detailed After Snooping Revealed

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  • C'mon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolus&gmail,com> on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:33PM (#44217309) Homepage Journal
    Proof ? Any credible material, anywhere ? No ? Then walk on, people. Nothing to see here. News at eleven.
    • Re:C'mon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:54PM (#44217471)
      The best part? The article even lays bare the complete idiocy

      Thirty seconds at the opening ceremony with the lights going down would have been catastrophic in terms of reputational hit

      Ahh, so it's your reputation you care so much about, not, you know, actual threats.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The best part? The article even lays bare the complete idiocy

        Thirty seconds at the opening ceremony with the lights going down would have been catastrophic in terms of reputational hit

        Ahh, so it's your reputation you care so much about, not, you know, actual threats.

        Please. The aftermath and financial ruin the Olympics brings to damn near every city they've been in recent history causes far more damage than the a hack during some obscene opening ceremony they spent millions on. Oh yeah, millions spent, in order to light a damn torch.

        Of course, no one wants to speak of that rather large elephant in the room. No, let's just keep the marketing hype up and convince countries they need the Olympics.

      • by dintech (998802)
        Also when I read this, I thought to myself, why in the fuck were you considering connecting stadium lights to the internet?

        Then it occurs to me that was government funded. Maybe they've got some stupid fucking £1m iPhone app that turns them off remotely when they forgot to do it.
    • by omnichad (1198475)

      The funny thing about prevention is that you get to take credit for everything that doesn't happen. Did there have to be a threat? Stores prevent millions of thefts every day by having doors that they can lock when the store is closed.

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        The funny thing about prevention is that you get to take credit for everything that doesn't happen. ... Stores prevent millions of thefts every day by having doors that they can lock when the store is closed.

        Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

        (and your doors w/locks).

    • by jkflying (2190798)

      I think the real issue drawing the credibility into account is the timing of this news story...

    • Proof ? Any credible material, anywhere ?

      No proof, but it wouldn't have been the first time in history. The opening night of Eurodisney Paris was marred by a terrorist attack against one of the power lines to the parc [lesechos.fr]. Fortunately, this bomblet didn't have any impact on the opening ceremony, thanks to a redundant power supply.

    • by EdZ (755139)
      Here's the GCHQ risk analysis:

      RISK: Cyber attack on Olympic Ceremony lighting system
      MITIGATION: Do not connect Olypmic Ceremony lighting system to internet
  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:33PM (#44217311)

    Last week I prevented the prevention of the prevention to take place preventing the mishaps that prevents you from using preventative steps.

    You didn't know all that because I prevented you from hearing about it until now. Please thank me and bow to your preventive overlord.

    Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda...

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Last week I prevented the prevention of the prevention to take place preventing the mishaps that prevents you from using preventative steps.

      You didn't know all that because I prevented you from hearing about it until now. Please thank me and bow to your preventive overlord.

      Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda...

      As long as I haven been alive there has not been an apocalyptic alien invasion.

      Therefore, all of Earth's resources and science should be dedicated to making me immortal.

  • FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:37PM (#44217337)

    A government of liars cannot be trusted. Whether the story is actually FUD or not doesn't really matter. We must greet every bit of information with skepticism... assume every story is FUD. The only thing we know for sure is that we don't know the whole truth.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry but I disagree in that this DOES matter. They pissed away $15 billion on the olympics (almost a billion just on security) and didn't even secure it properly?

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        I'm sorry but I disagree in that this DOES matter. They pissed away $15 billion on the olympics (almost a billion just on security) and didn't even secure it properly?

        Next Olympics: No computers - no problem! :)

        • I'm sorry but I disagree in that this DOES matter. They pissed away $15 billion on the olympics (almost a billion just on security) and didn't even secure it properly?

          Next Olympics: No computers - no problem! :)

          Right; we'll just reorganize the entry gates so they lead into the nearest prison instead of the stadium. Voila!

      • Re:FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cenan (1892902) on Monday July 08, 2013 @02:50PM (#44217961)

        Hey now, I distinctly remember something about them putting anti aircraft guns on buildings, some of the people who had to live with a WWII era machine gun on their roof were, as I recall, quite upset about it. Or maybe it was missiles? I forget, point is, it is quite obvious to everyone that the security was perfect! And since the Red Baron did not show, we can conclude that at least one attack was averted.

        As for the rest of the money, weren't you entertained for a whole goddamn month by people jumping about and generally trying to accomplish feats of human stupdity (I mean, who swims 1000 meters? what the fuck?) - all for your amusement.

  • I smell bullshit. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:37PM (#44217343)

    I smell more government/industry stirred bullshit along the lines of the rest of the "we must have absolute control of the internets0rs because hax0rs will kill everyone and destroy the world" garbage we've had shoved down our throats the last five years. In exactly what reality would you have your fucking lights and power connected to the internet, exactly...?

    • by s.petry (762400)
      5 years? Have to go back further than that! You may have only been paying attention for 5 years, but this shit goes back to Bush the first.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:39PM (#44217369) Journal

    Just imagine the horror, the horror! The primary lights and AV systems could have gone out, forcing the audience to endure the inconvenience of use the emergency exit lighting systems that(as a new venue) would have been legally obligated to comply with the relevant portions of British Standard 5266, and possibly other similar regulations(unless some Olympic Comittee weasel bent that rule, or somebody hired G4S to handle it...)

    Clearly, when a problem could either be reliably solved with some lead-acid batteries and a few LED light strips, or possibly, not guarantees solved by ubiquitous surveillance of all IP communications in, to/from, or through the United Kingdom, Our Choice Is Obvious!

    • by omnichad (1198475)

      The world's 4th largest sporting event suffered a power outage - The Super Bowl - and it didn't really matter all that much.

      • by sjames (1099)

        During a Nats game recently, one of the big lights caught fire, so they ushered the people sitting under it to other seats and continued the game.

      • The world's 4th largest sporting event suffered a power outage - The Super Bowl - and it didn't really matter all that much.

        Arguably, that's the other vice(as though it needed more) of various OMG TOTAL SECURITY schemes: anybody chasing some Panopticon-silver-bullet scheme is likely tempted(and funding constrained) to ignore the basic, boring, highly useful, local redundancy and resilience measures that come in handy in all kinds of situations. A fire in the electrical closet would also have brought down the power during the Olympic games; but there wouldn't have been a whisper on the internet; because it would have been a mere

    • by s.petry (762400)

      Actually if the power went out it would have increased revenue due to increased ratings. Everyone would have been tuned in to see "The 30 second horror of darkness in London", because that's what we have been trained to do.

      • Even better, any broadcast affiliates whose cameras were disabled by the power outage would be able to convincingly synthesize the needed footage with nothing more than a lens cap and some pre-canned scream effects!

      • By ratings, you mean people would have turned on the news for a few minutes just to see it? And this would result in increased revenue?

        Not trying to be snarky, but I don't understand how those eyeballs translate into revenue. There's quite a leap between flicking on the TV and buying seat tickets.
        • by s.petry (762400)

          Nope, not the news. People would have tuned in to the Olympics and watched looking for the "terrorism". We saw the same exact scenario when the lights went out at the Superbowl. As soon as the news went out that power was out, everyone tuned in and waited for something bad to happen. "News" would have also seen an increase in viewing.

          • Okay, but I still don't understand how a bunch of mouth-breathing sadists tuning in from home translates into revenue.

            Money comes from advertising contracts, broadcast licensing and, to a lesser extent, bums on seats. I can see the money flow there. I don't see how a brief spike in home viewership will benefit them.
            • Sorry, I forgot to include kickbacks/bribery/corruption in the revenue sources. Consider that list amended.
            • by s.petry (762400)
              While commercial advertising time slots are generally prepaid, the terms are usually negotiable based on the number of viewers. Future costs for slots always increase based on historical viewers. Additionally, extra slots are generally available during events and sold to the highest bidder. There are obviously many more of these extra slots when there is a delay of some type. This does not include what we can call extravagant revenue where the value of a network stock as their market share increases, or
      • by Maritz (1829006)

        Everyone would have been tuned in to see "The 30 second horror of darkness in London", because that's what we have been trained to do.

        Can you imagine the crushing disappointment when the lights don't go 'CLUNK' like they do in movies?

  • by thetagger (1057066) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:40PM (#44217375)

    I am pretty sure that the fear of "terrorists" turning off the lights at a stadium is a good reason to throw away my personal freedoms!

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday July 08, 2013 @03:05PM (#44218113)

      Especially considering that the story is released almost a year after the alleged threat would have taken place.

      More conveniently, it is mere weeks since PRISM was exposed, and with governments scrambling to save their credibility, they need such stories, proving how useful it is.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      I am pretty sure that the fear of "terrorists" turning off the lights at a stadium is a good reason to throw away my personal freedoms!

      I am absolutely certain that if they actually stopped anything (even someone who was going to sabotage janitor's broom), that would be all over the news. Who would pass on such great publicity?

      Just like if TSA ever accidentally catches a terrorist, they would be trumpeting it for years (and requesting to double their funding).

    • Worse than this, the biggest _actual_ security story to come out of the Olympics was that the company that was actually hired to provide security, G4S, didn't actually provide enough people and they had to bring in the military to cover at the last minute, thus proving the things you actually could plan for were screwed up:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/10070425/Timeline-how-G4Ss-bungled-Olympics-security-contract-unfolded.html [telegraph.co.uk]

  • Superbowl (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/08/us/superdome-power-outage [cnn.com] anyone? Did civilization end?

  • The Olympics maybe big, but is just a business like any other. They hack it as much they want, I don't give a damn. There are more important things. Actually they would be doing us a favour if they hacked it, the idols and big brother.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:44PM (#44217411)

    In most fields, when you say that something is going to happen, but then it doesn't, then that means you were wrong. In secret intelligence, if you say something is going to happen, but it doesn't, then that means that you prevented it.

    You don't need pervasive spying to know that someone might try to hack into the electrical system during a highly publicized event, so the big takeway from this is that apparently they were not prepared for this kind of likely attack if they had to take any action to prevent the attack once they received the "credible threat" -- they should have already been prepared for a cyber attack... maybe some of the intelligence money would be better spent on preventative measures.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      You can't protect against every likely attack vector and while you are setting up preparations, the bad guys are seeing how you prepared and looking for what you missed.

      Good plans always need to be backed up with recon or you'll be done by what can't adapt to in time to stop it.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Considering that the action in this case was to have people standing by to manually turn the lights back on within 30 seconds, we can be 100% sure the attack was not actually attempted OR that it would have failed with or without the intelligence reports and recon.

  • Let's summarize (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sjames (1099) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:52PM (#44217459) Homepage

    GCHQ found a 'credible' threat that someone might turn the lights off during the opening ceremony and warned officials to have a contingency plan.

    Officials posted a team of techs prepared to manually turn the lights back on if necessary. That's all they had time to do.

    The threat never materialized and a bunch of techs were bored for a while.

    In other words, it was exactly like that Mayan calendar thing. However 'credible' they found the threat, there was simply nothing to it and nothing was averted.

    Every night, probably millions of parents spray 'monster spray' under their small child's bed. They must be more powerful than Ultraman.

  • by Kingston (1256054) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:55PM (#44217481)
    A few years ago the UK government leaked the story that there was a crack team of Islamic terrorists equipped with surface to air missiles ready to launch a "spectacular" attack. These extremists had based themselves in west London near Heathrow airport and were planning an imminent attack. In response the government sent 400 troops and tanks to the airport. Strangely no arrests were ever made and no missiles were ever recovered and the whole event was quickly forgotten. When did this happen ? about 5 weeks before the invasion of Iraq [bbc.co.uk].
    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      I think you may be remembering an episode of 'Spooks' (MI5 on this side of the Atlantic). Probably just as fictional as this "credible" threat.

  • FYI - we are also 'potentially subject' to an asteroid strike.
  • FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by longk (2637033) on Monday July 08, 2013 @01:58PM (#44217497)

    According to research people are more afraid of things they don't understand well (like cyber attacks, terrorism, nuclear energy) than things they do understand well (like train or car accidents), even if the number or deaths is much higher for the second category.

    Expect government agencies to go all out on cyber attacks. It sounds dangerous and nobody asks for details or proof.

  • "Who are you going to trust - your lying eyes, or scumbag spooks already caught in a manifold of lies?"

    Weak sauce, GCHQ.
  • by nimbius (983462) on Monday July 08, 2013 @02:04PM (#44217561) Homepage
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3948321&cid=44215203 [slashdot.org]
    you can expect a few more of these "see its freedom surveillance!" stories in the next few days. After all, we dont want anyone else questioning the American Dream(c) now do we?
  • What a BS. Do you know how easy it is to prevent a "cyber attack" on the light infrastructure? JUST DON"T PLUG THE LIGHTS TO THE INTERNET. You know, either create a local LAN or use a VPN. It's called a "virtual private network" and you can not hack it from the internet. To get the idea please look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Virtual_Private_Network_overview.svg [wikipedia.org]
    See the grey cloud? That's the Internet and it have no access what-so-ever to the VPN.

    The only risk is an insider with access to the local

    • It's called a "virtual private network" and you can not hack it from the internet.

      That kind of thinking is exactly why we get massive security holes. Of course its possible to crack a VPN - you just crack one of the endpoint routers.

  • be released into Picadilly Circle by terrorist mahouts.

    We caught wind of this by collecting phone metadata and prevented it from ever happening.

    Prove we didn't.

  • When are the people in charge going to stop using 1984 as a resource manual?
  • Tron (Score:4, Funny)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday July 08, 2013 @02:25PM (#44217743)

    The head of the government's surveillance centre GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban, says reconnaissance has taken place in cyberspace

    Ok, after reading that I'm firmly convinced that this guy doesn't actually own a computer, use the internet and his concept of what networking is entirely based on watching the movie Tron a few too many times. He's probably paying his security experts six figures and at the end of each day they turn in reports full of details about light-cycles and occasionally they "capture" a glow in the dark frisbee at the local wallgreens and claim that they are some hackers identity disc.

    • The head of the government's surveillance centre GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban, says reconnaissance has taken place in cyberspace

      Ok, after reading that I'm firmly convinced that this guy doesn't actually own a computer, use the internet and his concept of what networking is entirely based on watching the movie Tron a few too many times.

      TBH, "reconnaissance has taken place" is so vague as to be meaningless - he might just mean that they get ssh scans on internet-facing machines every so often (which *everyone* with a global scope IP address gets).

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Monday July 08, 2013 @02:28PM (#44217761)

    It would be FUD anyway since it's pure speculation. +1 for more FUD since there was already a lot of arm-waving about it the first time. Another +1 since there is a possibility of a Snowden factor thrown in to make it look like he's harmed the US somehow.

    Don't get distracted by the real issue here. Snowden is not accountable for the laws broken by large government agencies.

  • The possibilities are limitless!
    Yes we DEMAND echelon, prism, anal retention, whatever.

  • While I would not rule out incredible stupidity by the system designers, this is very likely just another piece of FUD created by the amoral scum that presumes to "protect" us nowadays.

  • "the interesting question is whether this is real"

    NO!

    "or whether this is a FUD story promoted by GCHQ to help shore up some credibility issues"

    YES!
  • facebook sees itself in a mirror, and goes into infinite loop. all those affected turn to twitter, which promptly fowls itself. WaPo, while listening to Alanis Morissette, realizes that the internet itself is under attack...and that's when NSA claims credit (IRL) for edge detection.
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  • by SraL (320007)

    When you can't even get an olympic countdown clock to run past the first 24hrs.....what faith in "Cyber Security" is left....

  • When the power cut out for half of the stadium during Super Bowl XlVII, that was not a grid failure or shitty wiring. That was Terrorists!!!

    /tinfoil moonbattery
  • Why did they have to go and mention the Olympics!? I had just about managed to subdue the vile memories of Group4 security blunders, air defence missiles mounted on residential apartment blocks, the insane noise levels of fighter jets overhead, and people being arrested for not looking happy enough.

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