Beware Olympic cybercrime chaos, urges former UK politician

Speaking at the Infosecurity Europe 2009 conference, former U.K. home secretary David Blunkett says that attacks are taking place but not being talked about.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Former U.K. home secretary David Blunkett has warned of an Internet attack on the 2012 Olympics, in a speech to delegates at the Infosecurity Europe 2009 conference in London on Tuesday.

He said that those people defending disparate systems could be outsmarted by a coordinated attack on those systems, due to the distribution and number of different technologies that need to be defended.

The former home secretary added that a coordinated attack on ticketing systems, the transport system, hotel bookings and communications could result in "chaos".

"The ability to link these attacks together would lead to no transport, no accommodation, tickets that are not valid and communications that have broken down," said Blunkett. "We know there are countries capable of doing this."

Blunkett added that Trojans could be put in place on different systems and simultaneously "triggered from a distance" to cause the maximum amount of damage. He added that the U.S. government had warned of the possibility of attacks against utilities companies, to force a shutdown of electrical supply.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet UK after his presentation, Blunkett acknowledged that there was a danger of overstating the threat, but said he was not making such an overstatement himself.

"There's always a danger of crying wolf, as there's a difficulty bringing about awareness [of threats]," said Blunkett. "But I'm not making these things up. People know these [cyberattacks] are taking place, they are just reluctant to admit it."

Blunkett noted that such an attack had only been shown successful in theory, when the U.S. government demonstrated the possibility by overloading a generator in the 'Aurora' vulnerability demonstration.

"In a sense, unless [a successful attack] has happened then of course the threat could be [overstated]," Blunkett told ZDNet UK.

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