For brand owners, the Olympic games can be an opportunity to showcase their goods and services to a worldwide audience.

The top-tier sponsors pay substantial sums to reach that global audience, who may be watching the games at the time most convenient to their local time zones.

That 24/7 demand calls for web sites and other online presence that are robust and available (ideally) 24/7—no down time. Advertisers can enhance their popularity with current customers and try to attract new ones. But popular brands can also attract hackers and “hactivists.” According to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center(NCCIC), the hacktivist group known as Anonymous Caucasus has issuedthreats against any company that finances or supports the Olympic games. 

That group has reportedly been linked to distributed denial of service attacks on Russian banks in October of 2013. Brand owners should be especially vigilant during the Olympic games, watching for unusual activity not only on their web sites but also on their social media accounts. 

Marketing and IT should work closely to spot suspicious behavior and take prompt action. It would also be a good time to review/update the disaster recovery/business continuity plans to test what steps a brand owner would take if its web site, Twitter account, Facebook page, etc. were compromised. 

Check to see if those plans cover potential risks like these: 

  • What would you do if your web site was suddenly superseded by a hacking organization’s message?
  • What if your Twitter account were compromised and messages were sent out under your company’s name? 
  •  How do you salvage your brand’s goodwill if your Facebook page is defaced?