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AI to play critical role in cybersecurity mitigation, response plan for upcoming Paris Olympics


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Next month, athletes from countries across the globe will descend on Paris for the highly anticipated 2024 Summer Olympics

As the competitors gear up for their chance to earn a highly coveted medal this year, those who have been tasked with overseeing the more than two-week-long event continue to prepare a defense against cybersecurity threats.

As “bad actors” have leaned into automation, using more sophisticated methods to launch cyberattacks has become much easier over the past decade. However, the responsible use of artificial intelligence offers an opportunity to counter some of those threats.

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The Olympic rings are set up at Trocadero Plaza, which overlooks the Eiffel Tower, a day after the official announcement that the 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be held in the French capital. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Sports leagues and organizations can turn to leading AI-driven companies such as Visual Edge IT that specialize in risk reduction. Visual Edge IT has worked with hundreds of clients throughout the U.S. and Europe. 

An international event such as the Olympics certainly faces considerable headwinds as it relates to security.

While Visual Edge IT does not directly work with the Olympics, cybersecurity expert Peter Avery shared some insight on how Olympic organizers can maximize risk reduction and detailed what a game plan should entail in the event of a cyber event.  

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

“At the core of what I do is help customers reduce risk in regards to their technical, physical, and administrative controls around their business” Avery, vice president of security and compliance at Visual Edge IT, told Fox News Digital. “Love protecting organizations and what the Olympics is facing is pretty huge… it’s a big challenge.”

“Overall, it’s critical that every decision we make in business and even our personal lives we have that in the back of our heads that we have to protect ourselves. It’s unfortunate that’s where we are in the world but they’re attacking the elderly, they’re attacking the youth, they’re attacking businesses…. going after how we make our living, how we survive. And then even our infrastructure and also the supply chain. We have to worry about our water supply, we have to worry about being able to buy food because all those events can be interrupted at anytime with the right cyber event.” 

artificial intelligence illustration

AI presents an opportunity to counter cybersecurity threats at the Paris Olympics. (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

While AI has undoubtedly created a number of advantages, those gains also come with some drawbacks.

“With the emergence of AI (or machine learning)… just as a fact as it is to increase our productivity on the legit side of business… cybercrime has also (been) able to equally accelerate their growth,” Avery added. “Their ability to automate and carry out attacks through that automation in a way that has never been seen before. Back ten years ago, it took somebody sophisticated to launch a cyberattack against a business. Now its almost like a franchising model. they have welcome packets, they have start up training for groups.”

Avery said having a robust incident response plan in place for cybersecurity will be critical for this summer’s Olympics.

“The internet is going to be overtaxed to begin with in Paris just because of the number of people there accessing the internet. No. 1, their systems has to be very robust, there has to be redundancy built into everything they are doing. And they really have to think about security in the space as defensive depth rather than defensive layers,” Avery noted.

“When I’m talking to organizations about cybercrime, it’s not if… always it’s when. So, when this happens, what are we going to? And the first step is having an incident response plan and do table-top testing. Right now, the people that are organizing the Olympics need to have people sitting at a table and say ‘Okay, the electricity from our main provider just went out. What happens next… go?’ And as they’re walking through that exercise they’re going to illuminate multiple other things that could happen that would impact other things.”

Paris Olympics flag on monument

South facade of the Palais Bourbon with the flags of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 in Paris on June 4, 2024. (RICCARDO MILANI/Hans Lucas/AFP via Getty Images)

Some cyberattacks are fueled by disinformation. However, Blackbird.AI created an AI-based narrative intelligence platform called Constellation. The platform efficiently identifies narratives that were derived from some type of disinformation. 

The platform then initiates a process in which the technology analyzes the narrative, measures the level of risk and adds context. All of these steps are done to provide clarity, which in turn allows organizations or anyone leveraging the platform to have the best information at their disposal when it comes to critical decision-making.

“We have a platform called Constellation, our intelligence platform, where we can discover, analyze, investigate online conversations on any platform and [help determine] the risk that it poses. We look at the visibility of the narrative,” Sarah Boutboul, an intelligence analyst at Blackbird.AI, told Fox News Digital.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach recently voiced the need to responsibly embrace AI within sports. In April, the IOC shared its AI plan, including identifying talent, personalizing training and improving judging fairness.

IOC President Thomas Bach announcement

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks at the opening of the executive board meeting of the IOC at the Olympic House in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)

“Today, we are making another step to ensure the uniqueness of the Olympic Games and the relevance of sport. To do this, we have to be leaders of change,” Bach said during a press event at the former London Olympic Park at the time. “We are determined to exploit the vast potential of AI in a responsible way.”

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The Summer Olympics begin on July 26 and conclude on Aug. 11.

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