The organizing committee of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has trained 220 IT security experts or so-called white hat hackers to protect the games from cyberattacks, officials said Monday.
Those “ethical hackers” now working for the organizing committee are mostly employees of Japanese companies, including Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. and NEC Corp.
They participated in an extensive training program developed by a technology research institute on the assumption the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, due to be held July 23, and other events that would draw worldwide attention could be disrupted by cyberattacks, according to the officials.
The Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018 fell victim to a cyberattack and suffered system problems on the day of the opening ceremony, which forced the organizers to make changes to parts of the program, while there were also disruptions to internet access and broadcasting services.
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department charged six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with international hacking, accusing them of worldwide cyberattacks that included targeting the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The British government also said Russia’s military intelligence service carried out cyberattacks against the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics and other entities associated with the upcoming games.
As part of efforts to ensure a successful Olympics, the cybersecurity training, led by the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, consisted of lectures on 20 subjects and exercises, where the members were divided into groups to protect their system from the attacks of the other team, according to the officials.
In a bid to protect critical infrastructure, such as electricity and transportation systems, teams of cybersecurity experts have also been established in their respective business fields to share information and to hold drills.
However, the novel coronavirus pandemic has brought about increased difficulties. Since many officials working for the Tokyo Games have been teleworking due to the pandemic, there has been growing concern that devices being used to work from home will be targeted.
In addition, the Tokyo Games may limit the number of spectators, which increases the demand for events to be streamed.
“The games themselves will be in cyberspace. The host country has the responsibility to share (them) with the world,” a Japanese government official said.