Infosec: Olympics to bring London IT security challenges

Britain's IT industry is likely to see business surge as London prepares to spend at least £1 billion on security for the 2012 Olympics.

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Britain's IT industry is likely to see business surge as London prepares to spend at least £1 billion on security for the 2012 Olympics.

The cost could rise as the UK tries to fortify itself during the world's most prominent sporting event from a repeat of the July 2005 bombings on London's transport system, said Derek Wyatt, MP who spoke at InfoSecurity Europe in London on 24 April.

"I hope this gives you an inkling of what I think will be the biggest piece of business your industry is going to face over the next five years," Wyatt told delegates to the show.

Technology will play a major role, although decisions on how it will be integrated are far from decided, Wyatt said. One security issue is authentication: how to ensure a person who holds a ticket is indeed the same person who bought it.

A number of ideas on authentication are being floated. Transport for London's Oyster card is capable of acting as an identity card and can store fingerprints, Wyatt said. Nokia also has an ID authentication system for mobile phones, another possible alternative since many people carry them, he said.

But neither Transport for London, which runs the Oyster card program, nor Nokia are lead Olympic sponsors, "so we can't use their technology," Wyatt said.

As one of the eight major sponsors, credit-card company Visa International will make many of the security decisions, although the company has yet to detail their plans, Wyatt said. "We will have to wait for Visa to come forward with a system that they want to cover the ticketing and the ID," he said.

When full scale construction on the Olympic sites begins, the UK will immediately face security issues such as performing background checks on those who have access to the 16 building sites across Britain.

There are also issues around the shortage of construction labour, which is likely to result in workers coming from countries such as Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, countries "that have some work to do," on security, Wyatt said.

Members of terrorist groups . may try to get hired as laborers, making identity verification important, Wyatt said.

The MP also raised the question of whether different law enforcement agencies - the police, customs and transport authorities - will have access to a common database to share data.

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