Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 08:06 UK

Cyber 'threat' to London Olympics

Hand using mouse
David Blunkett says woeful level of awareness about cyber crime

The Olympic Games in London could suffer a severe "cyber attack" unless urgent action is taken, according to former home secretary David Blunkett.

He said terrorists could hack into computer and communications systems causing a "complete meltdown".

The Labour MP said such an attack would be "devastating" but systems existed to block it.

He is urging a co-ordinated approach between government, security experts and business to ensure Britain is safe.

During his opening address to the Infosec annual conference at London's Earls Court on Tuesday, Mr Blunkett will say that there is a "woeful level of awareness" of the threat of cyber attack, organised crime and online fraud.

'Negligent and complacent'

Cyber attack can take the form of disrupting both cutting-edge and more traditional forms of communication, he will say.

He will say: "This can be from outside the country but also using techniques of infiltrating into key communication channels and computer links, the necessary equipment to trigger complete meltdown of systems, as well as unauthorised access to data through sophisticated hacking."

David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett was home secretary during Tony Blair's time as prime minister

Mr Blunkett will spell out the threat to London during the 2012 Games.

"Such criminals could target a whole range of visitor requirements - from ticketing, transportation and the crucial area of hotel and other bookings, which would severely disrupt, or even wipe out, accommodation reservations," he will say.

"Fraudsters and those seeking to hurt the economy and the Games themselves would have a substantial opportunity through duplication, hacking into information and, therefore, being in a position to disrupt facilities and commit theft of identity, credit cards and other personal data."

Mr Blunkett will call for a joined-up approach to tackle the threat, while acknowledging that publicising it raises the profile of potential attackers.

He said keeping quiet would be "negligent and complacent".

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