Next month, athletes from around the world will converge in Paris for the much-anticipated 2024 Summer Olympics. As competitors prepare for their moment of glory, the event organizers are equally busy fortifying their defenses against an increasingly sophisticated array of cybersecurity threats.

In the last decade, “bad actors” have harnessed automation to launch more advanced cyberattacks. This rise in cyber threats has made the task of protecting major international events like the Olympics even more daunting. However, the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) offers a powerful countermeasure to these threats. AI-driven companies such as Visual Edge IT, which specializes in risk reduction, are leading the charge in this domain, providing critical insights and strategies.

The Impact of AI on Cybersecurity

Peter Avery, Vice President of Security and Compliance at Visual Edge IT, underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures. Although Visual Edge IT does not directly work with the Olympics, Avery shared his expertise on how event organizers can mitigate risks. “At the core of what I do is help customers reduce risk regarding their technical, physical, and administrative controls around their business,” Avery told Fox News Digital. “What the Olympics is facing is pretty huge… it’s a big challenge.”

AI has significantly advanced both productivity and cybercrime. Avery highlights that modern cybercriminals can automate and execute attacks more efficiently than ever before. “With the emergence of AI… cybercrime has also been able to equally accelerate their growth,” Avery said. “Back ten years ago, it took somebody sophisticated to launch a cyberattack against a business. Now it’s almost like a franchising model.”

Preparing for Cybersecurity Incidents

For the Paris Olympics, having a robust incident response plan is critical. Avery stresses the importance of redundancy and resilience in the face of potential cyber threats. “The internet is going to be overtaxed to begin with in Paris just because of the number of people there accessing the internet. Their systems have to be very robust, there has to be redundancy built into everything they are doing,” he noted.

Avery also advises that event organizers conduct thorough table-top exercises to prepare for various scenarios. “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 do? And the first step is having an incident response plan and do table-top testing,” he said. Such exercises help identify vulnerabilities and prepare for real-world incidents.

The International Olympic Committee’s AI Strategy

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes the transformative potential of AI in sports and cybersecurity. In April, IOC President Thomas Bach outlined a comprehensive AI plan to leverage AI responsibly across various aspects of the Olympics, including talent identification, personalized training, and judging fairness. “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 stated during a press event.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks at the opening of the executive board meeting of the IOC.

The responsible integration of AI into the Olympics is crucial for maintaining the integrity and security of the event. As AI continues to evolve, its role in cybersecurity will be pivotal in safeguarding the Olympics against emerging threats.