AMSTERDAM: Real-world disruption from groups such as Fathers for Justice was a more serious risk to the London 2012 Olympic Games than cyber terrorists, according to Olympic chairman Lord Sebastian Coe.
Coe said despite heavy investment into the Games' cyber defences, once the Olympics started, the organisers spent more time mitigating risks from local political groups.
"In the end you always have your standard areas of risk and concern and that obviously includes acts of terrorism," he said during RSA 2013.
"But then you have other security concerns; terrorism is only one part. You have to have contingencies for everything – acts of God, accidents, the weather, flu pandemics. That's the nature of security.
"In the end most of the challenges weren't terrorists, cyber or otherwise, they were domestic. The threats were of a domestic nature, where you had a potential window for some groups – which included everything from Fathers for Justice through to taxi drivers, angry they weren't allowed into the Olympic lanes – to cause disruption. That tended to be the level of the threat."
Coe's comments mirror those of BT chief executive officer Mark Hughes, who previously said that, despite heavy investment to countermand any potential cyber terrorist activity, no attack occurred during the Games.
"We worked with various government organisations but the Home Office was effectively responsible for dealing with the threat element of the games. In the sense of what these specific threats were, terrorism was one of them, and we did work to protect against it, but, come the games we didn't see anything specific regarding the terrorism stuff," he said.
Coe praised companies such as BT for their role during the Games, highlighting their participation as a key example of how the public and private sectors can work together.
"The collaborative work that was done around the website and telecoms security, BT really took the lead with that. This was because they have very good community links anyway, as they provide infrastructure in London's boroughs. I think one of the strong legacies to come out of the Games is that there is a much greater understanding how the public and private sector can come together," he said.
"During the games I think the private sector had their views about the scale of what the public sector does change during the period. From my personal experience working alongside many of these teams, they did actually come out having a much better feel for what the public sector did. Conversely, the Games helped the public sector, which from time to time has had a fairly preconditioned idea of what the private sector is about softened."
Coe is one of many political figures to praise BT for its role in the Games. While hosting the Olympic site BT is believed to have dealt with over 200 million cyber attacks.
Increasing collaboration between the public and private sector when combating cyber threats has been an ongoing goal of the UK government and is a central part of its Cyber Security Strategy. The strategy has seen the government launch several information-sharing initiatives since it began in 2011.
Chief of these is the government's Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP). The partnership was launched in March and is designed to facilitate real-time data sharing between the public and private sector.
The scheme has received mixed feedback since launching. Some, such as BT chief Hughes, claim it is already facilitating "actionable data sharing" between government departments and private companies. Others, like (ISC2)'s John Colley, have been less positive arguing CISP is currently only helping a very select group of businesses.
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