• Kyodo

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The government is set to hold a large-scale drill aimed at countering cyberattacks by the end of March in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, government sources said Thursday.

The drill is being designed to simulate an actual attack and will involve the world’s largest virtual network involving thousands of people, according to the sources.

The organizing committee and private IT companies are expected to participate in the exercise, which is aimed at identifying potential problems.

During the 2012 London Olympics, the official website was attacked or accessed illegally about 200 million times, with the authorities being warned of one serious cyberattack on the electrical power system aimed at disrupting the opening ceremony.

Experts have issued warnings to expect more frequent and sophisticated attacks on the Tokyo Games.

The participants in the drill will be divided into two teams: one on “offense” and the other on “defense.” The virtual scenario will cover not only attacks on the official website but also online ticket sales, Wi-Fi connections and other vulnerable points.

“Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated every year. By holding the drill from the perspective of attackers, we should be able to detect loopholes in security systems,” an official in charge of the exercise said.

The government is also planning to train “white hat hackers” to find the weak points of attackers in order to launch counterattacks.

The virtual environment was created at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology’s experimental facility in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Around 80,000 cybersecurity personnel are said to be needed for the games and the government plans to recruit and develop more specialists.