With the Opening Ceremony just days away, many small businesses situated near Olympic venues in London and across the UK will be finalising their plans for the Olympic period. At the infosecurity Virtual Conference, John Colley, Managing Director EMEA at (ISC)2, explains the transport disruption that we could face and the biggest threats to London.

John describes the period of Olympic and Paralympic Games as the ‘abnormal normal’ – it would be abnormal if London and the rest of the UK continued as normal.  The sheer amount of people entering London will cause operational difficulties, as organisers are estimating that crowds in the capital will be three times bigger than those we see on New Year’s Eve.

Transport

“Disruption will not just be limited to East London,” explains John.  “There are venues in the Olympic Park itself and right across London.  If you’re located in or want to travel through these areas, then you’re likely to experience some disruption to transport systems.”

John warns those based in Olympic venues outside London, in major cities to coastal towns such as Weymouth, to expect transport disruption too.  Then there are the events that John describes as ‘moving targets’ which don’t happen in one location, for example the cycle road race.

We’re likely to see quite a lot of disruption and overcrowding at tube stations. “Businesses are being encouraged to consider using alternative modes of transport for the Games, such as cycling or walking.”

Here’s a few tips from John:

  • Plan ahead for disruption to normal operations due to transport problems
  • Consider working from remote locations where possible
  • Ensure your staff are properly briefed on procedures

Threat Vectors

The most serious threat would come from a terrorist organisation, but John points out other areas of threat.  “Advocacy groups, whether peaceful or disruptive, will see the Olympics as a good way of publicising their cause.  And then there’s the ‘normal suspects’ – organised crime and opportunists.”

Some areas of London that could be targeted include:

  • Olympic venues
  • transportation systems
  • high profile buildings
  • high profile businesses, for example banks or key sponsors of the Olympics

In July 2005, the 7/7 attacks on the Underground and buses unfortunately resulted in a high loss of lives.  John describes some lessons that can be learnt from companies dealing with an incident.  “You need to make sure that your crisis management processes have been tested.  You may have limited powers of decision: people may be office-bound, they may have to walk home, and communications will be difficult if the mobile phone network goes down.”

John finishes with some common sense measures:

  • test your contingency plans
  • consider all venues as potential trouble spots
  • talk to physical security people for information from the security services or police force
  • keep your users up to date and savvy with potential online threats
  • system administrators up to date

And what are John’s plans for the Olympics?  “If you ask me what I’m doing, I’m planning to work remotely from the Lake District.”  We like your style!