[ISN] Cyber front has favorable bytes

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon Aug 23 03:32:20 EDT 2004


By Patrick O'Driscoll

NEA IONIA, Greece - In a post-9/11 world, even the computers that run
the Olympics have color-coded warnings for threats.

"Green is good. Red is very bad," says Jean Chevallier, executive vice
president of Atos Origin, Paris-based head of the Games' $400 million
information system. In between are yellow (mild) and orange (more

Halfway through the Athens Olympics, the worst anyone has seen here is
"a light yellow," Chevallier says. The threat? Some news people have
unplugged official terminals in the press centers and tried to tap
into the network with their own laptops, apparently thinking they can
surf the Internet.

They got nowhere.

The network for the Games has no two-way link with the Internet. For
event results, computer users click on a separate site,
Athens2004.com, run by the Athens Olympic Organizing Committee
(ATHOC). That site gets results only by one-way transmission from
Chevallier's hacker-proof network.

Chevallier, who also worked at the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics,
says a computer "bridge" made info-tech at those Games potentially
vulnerable to outside attack.

Although there were no breaches, thousands of alerts and alarms kept
the IT team busy.

This time, "the image of a hacker coming in from the Internet is
obsolete ... impossible."

Sounds like a perfect trash-talk challenge to byte heads with
anti-Olympic fever. But Chevallier says the only way anyone could
break in is from inside. Even then, odd traffic - logging in from the
wrong place or trying to roam where not allowed - triggers lockouts
and other safeguards. Network computers don't even have CD-ROMs,
floppy drives or other outside data ports.

"A few days ago, we saw somebody entered the computer room at a venue
at 3 a.m. and tried to log in," Chevallier says. "They tried five or
six times" and failed.

The team's hub is at ATHOC headquarters, in an old shoe factory in
this Athens suburb, two subway stops from the Olympic stadium complex.  
With 130 people at terminals and screens around the clock, it looks
like NASA mission control.

If info technology were an Olympic team, it would be the largest by
far: 330 Atos Origin staffers and 2,300 info-tech volunteers at 36
sports venues and 26 non-sport sites. Coming from 44 nations, they run
10,500 computers, 900 servers, 23,000 desktop telephones, 13,000 cell
phones, 9,000 two-way radios and 2,500 public information terminals.

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