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Japan will take steps to guard against Olympics cyberattacks

Tokyo Olympics

(Reuters) Japan said Tuesday it would take countermeasures to ensure next year's Tokyo Olympics are not derailed by cyberattacks after the United States and Britain accused Russia of orchestrating efforts to disrupt the Games.

Olympics organizers reported no significant impact on their operations for the 2020 Games, which were postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States and Britain on Monday condemned what they said were a series of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence, including attempts to disrupt the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the allegations, attributing them to “Russophobia.” He told reporters: “Russia has never carried out any hacking activities against the Olympics.”

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan would make every effort to protect the Games from possible hacking attempts.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to malicious cyberattacks that threaten democracy,” Mr. Kato told a news conference, adding that Japan was gathering and analyzing information and in close contact with Britain and the United States.

“The Olympics are a major international event that attracts attention, and cybersecurity measures are extremely important.”

British officials said on Monday the hackers from Russia's GRU military intelligence agency had also conducted “cyber reconnaissance” operations against Tokyo Games organizers.

They declined to give specific details about the latest attacks or say whether they were successful but said they had targeted Games organizers, logistics suppliers and sponsors.

The organizing committee said in a statement it had already made extensive cybersecurity preparations and that there had been little disruption to its platforms.

“While we have constantly monitored various types of cyberattack on the digital platforms owned by Tokyo 2020, no significant impact has been observed in our operations,” spokesman Masa Takaya said.

Olympic sponsor Panasonic Corp. said in a statement it was strengthening its global monitoring efforts, adding: “We did not detect any evidence of an attack.”

A representative for fellow sponsor Toyota Motor Corp. declined to comment.

A string of hacking attempts have been conducted against international sporting organizations which Western officials and cybersecurity experts say were orchestrated by Russia since its doping scandal erupted five years ago.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Russia was banned from the world's top sporting events for four years in December over widespread doping offenses, including the Tokyo Games.

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman said cybersecurity was one of its priorities.

“The IOC and the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games have identified cybersecurity as a priority area and invest a lot to offer the Olympic Games the best cybersecurity environment possible,” the spokesman told Reuters in an email.

“Given the nature of the topic, we do not divulge those measures.”