FIFA's networking partner Avaya is expecting hackers to launch attacks
against the World Cup's network, as the first game of the long-awaited soccer
tournament in Germany draws closer.
Roger Jones, Avaya's business development manager for Europe, the Middle East
and Africa, said he expected malicious computer users to reprise the to-date
unsuccessful denial-of-service attacks against the networks servicing the 2002
World Cup, the 2003 Women's World Cup and the Confederations Cup, the warm-up
tournament for Germany 2006.
However, Jones said Thursday there had been "nothing of note so far." He
earlier told a group of journalists that white-hat hackers had been contracted
to test the strength of the network.
A security team from technology partners Avaya and Deutsche Telekom has
undertaken extensive testing of the network's resilience in a range of
scenarios, said Mike Kelly, the head of IT Solutions for FIFA, the organizers of
the World Cup.
Kelly acknowledged the value of the information held by FIFA, which includes
extensive personal details on applicants for accreditation to the tournament,
which is billed as the largest sporting event in the world.
He said in a brief interview he was "extremely confident" that FIFA and its
partners were taking all measures to prevent attacks.
Jones noted that the tournament's IT command center, based in Munich, would
have network security specialists on hand constantly. Workers monitoring and
managing other aspects of the network would hand over duties to a facility in
Texas at the conclusion of a working day, he added.
The Avaya manager declined to reveal which vendors were involved in security,
including the provision of intrusion prevention and virus-scanning software, for
the network. He did say, however, that the system had been substantially
redesigned and the vendors changed from those employed at the previous World
Cup, though the head of network security had remained unchanged from the 2002
The World Cup network is required to run at 99.999 percent availability,
meaning the IT Solutions project team and vendors have built redundancy into the
network at all points, Kelly said.
He said the audience for the World Cup was expected to reach 32 billion
cumulatively, up from the cumulative 28 billion who watched the previous
tournament in Japan and Korea.
He said the converged IP network being used for the event yielded significant
benefits for FIFA over alternative voice and data solutions. These included the
deployment of less infrastructure, the involvement of fewer people making less
effort, and the generation of extensive savings in call charges.
Kelly's IT Solutions unit is responsible for building networks covering
hotels used as headquarters in each city where matches are held, as well as in
the stadiums. The network must also be extended to facilities that are not part
of the stadium proper, such as ticketing offices.
The IT Solutions boss underlined the enormity of the task he faces in
undertaking the project, saying that not only is the network a temporary
infrastructure with a short life, but that he and his team only have a short
time to build it.
Extensive planning had to account for the fact that the last matches in the
German Bundesliga championship finished in early May, meaning Kelly and his team
could not get into the stadium until the first or second week of that month.
Once they did, "everything had to be deployed, tested and operational" within
a month, he said.
It also has to be torn down completely as soon as the tournament is finished,
Kelly said, noting that some venues had to be vacated well prior to the World
Cup Final, in around four weeks. The stadium at Leipzig is set to be the first
to go offline, presently scheduled for June 24, and the FIFA team has just three
days to hand a "clean" venue back to its owners.
Iain Ferguson of ZDNet Australia reported from Germany.