The cyber security team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast reportedly blocked “about 176,000” potential attacks during the event.
According to the Australian website itnews, Cisco Australia/New Zealand national security officer Glenn Maiden revealed the figure at a company event in Melbourne.
“We served up just under 400 million DNS requests over the two-week period [of the Games], but of that 400 [million] there was about 176,000 pieces of malware that we blocked,” he said.
The official described the situation as “the Wild West”, saying various attempted attacks had been launched including with the use of ransomware, a form of malware which famously caused chaos in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) in 2017, forcing the cancellation of more than 6,900 patient appointments.
“If you imagine you’ve been hit by Wannacry [the malware responsible for the NHS attack] or some ransomware, it will reach out to its command and control server and try to get a key so it can encrypt all your traffic,” Maiden told itnews.
“So we blocked that, which could have caused availability issues.
“We blocked 40,000 of those command and control connections coming out.
“We identified 39,000 distinct pieces of malware.
“It was the Wild West.”
Maiden said most of the problems had been caused by unmanaged devices connecting to the Games network, but that some infected machines had been used by news crews covering the event.
“It could have been a malware-infected user and in many cases it was," he said.
"It could have been a news crew that were connecting their news network to a system which had malware on it and that was the case a couple of times as well."
Maiden added that the team had dealt with every security issue possible during the course of the Games.
“We saw everything,” he said.
No successful cyber attacks were reported during last year’s Games but the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which had taken place two months before, was hit during the Opening Ceremony.
The official Games website, television and Internet systems were disrupted for about 12 hours, with problems arising just before the start of the Ceremony.