The Olympic Spirit

Well less than a month until the 2008 Olympic Games in China.  Many people from around the world have been working very hard to ensure that they are ready for the games.  Not just atheletes but a huge number of support staff.  These people have a huge amount of data relating to their work and the pursuit of excellence in their area of work.  From the competitors side you have info on past and current performance, diet, health, training and ‘tactics’.  Information about family, friends and external factors that influence the behaviour of individuals.  This information is, in some cases, travelling out to China to be on hand as required to use during the games.  There is already and will be much more communication between the teams ‘on site’ and the families or support structures back home. 


But why raise this now?  Well this event is proving to be a real IA challenge for all involved.  This is compounded by the fact that many of the people involved have never come across these issues before in their work and so the user awareness and training issues have been huge.  It would also seem that many organisations and individuals have not been keen to take the advice and guidance available to them.


What are the IA issues?

Confidentiality – Have all reasonable efforts been made to secure the information taken to the games or to be transmitted while at the games?

Integrity – Are the teams sure that the data that they are working from is correct and has not been altered by a third party to reduce or inhibit performance?

Availability – Will the information that the team relies upon to deliver be there when required?


The Chinese authorities have already placed some interesting restrictions on the IT equipment that can be brought to the games and used.  Information relating to OS and firmware on networking equipment is required by the authorities for example. 


Teams are to be all located in one area with full wireless coverage available.  But where does that wireless coverage go before it hits the Internet?  Who owns the GSM infrastructure that provides mobile data services to everyone on site?  Who can ‘see’ all of this traffic as it passes by?


There have already been stories of personal and Team IT equipment arriving only to find on closer inspection that HDDs have been removed and then put back into the wrong individuals laptops while being ‘transported to the facilities’.


When the will to win, national pride and financial gain through gambling combine they produce a very, very strong force.  It would be fool hardy for any team attending the games to ignore good advice on Information Assurance.

~ by Simon Hancock on July 10, 2008.

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