Russia targeted Tokyo Olympics in cyberattacks: British gov't

Kyodo News

Posted at Oct 20 2020 02:19 PM

A woman wearing a protective mask amid the COVID-19 outbreak takes a picture of the Olympic rings in front of the National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, Oct. 14, 2020. Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters/File

LONDON— Russian military intelligence carried out cyberattacks targeting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics originally scheduled to be held this summer with the aim of disrupting the events, the British government said Monday.

Russia's GRU engaged in hostile cyber activity before the decision in March to postpone the games to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cyber reconnaissance was carried out on organizers, sponsor firms and logistics services, the British government said. The details of the cyberattacks are not immediately known, nor is it clear whether the cyberattacks caused actual damage to the targeted entities.

The Japanese government declined to comment on the British government's announcement or offer details, but said it is collecting information and would continue to share it with other countries.

"We would not be able to overlook an ill-intentioned cyberattack that could undermine the foundation of democracy," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo on Tuesday.

A senior Japanese government official indicated Tokyo would consider lodging a protest with Moscow if cyberattacks are confirmed to have been carried out by the country.

The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee said in a comment they view cyber security "as an important aspect of hosting the games" and have been "taking a range of measures and making thorough preparations."

"Although we are not able to disclose details of the countermeasures due to the nature of the topic, we will continue to work closely with the relevant organizations and authorities to ensure that they are thoroughly implemented," organizers said.

According to the British government, the actions are "the latest in a campaign of Russian malicious cyber activity against the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Calling the Russian cyberattacks "cynical and reckless," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, "We condemn them in the strongest possible terms."

Britain will continue to work with its allies "to call out and counter future malicious cyberattacks," he added.

The Tokyo Olympics are slated to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 next summer, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.