The Stack Archive

High-tech attack alert for 2016 Super Bowl

Wed 20 Jan 2016

Levi's stadium

The forthcoming Super Bowl event on 7th February could be at risk of a high-tech attack against fans both inside and outside the San Francisco 49ers Stadium.

A security memo issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the annual game could be a target not just at the stadium, but at other commemorative events taking place in San Francisco and in the Silicon Valley.

One of the chief concerns is the various sabotages committed against fibre cables in the area. As the fibre optic cable networks function as back up communication systems in emergency situations, these are a possible target for the attackers. By destroying these cables, response times could be slowed down.

The concerns over fibre optic networks come in the wake of a series of incidents committed between July 2014 and June 2015. Most of these incidents (the first of which occurred in Berkeley) took place within a 40 mile radius from the Levi’s Stadium. Spokeswoman for the FBI San Francisco Field Office, Michele Ernst, said that there had been 15 types of these attacks in the time frame between 2014 and 2015.

A worry raised in the document is that these previous incidents could have been dummy runs for a terror attack. One of the biggest concerns is that of the ‘lone wolf’ attackers as they can remain undetected before an attack. The memo also suggested that these outage attacks were used by individuals to test and prod network strength in conjunction with a more complex plot.

Another concern facing the authorities is that of drones. The concerns here relate to potential problems such as use by ‘malicious actors’ against the crowds, which poses a risk of injury if the operator loses control of the drone. Other worries include the drone allowing for illegal video coverage of the game or presenting a ‘low-altitude hazard’ to aviation assets supporting the event.

The organisers of the event say that they are on “maximum alert”, a level that has been in place since the attacks on 11th September 2001.


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