Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium is lighted during the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Sep 23, 2023. Photo:Xinhua
As the 19th Asian Games drew to an end on Sunday in Hangzhou, the games service providers revealed to the Global Times that behind the splendid display of various events at the “Big Lotus,” security service personnel worked round-the-clock using cutting-edge network security technology coupled with the strong support of the local government to guarantee a stable, harmonious social environment that allowed the Games to proceed without a hitch.
Experts say that despite the unprecedented challenges the event has posed given its scale and extensive application of intelligent technology, zero error was made either in terms of personal information protection, data and signal transmission, or content protection, an achievement that represents the high level of network security protection in China.
International sports events have always been one of the most important stages for showcasing innovative technology. However, along with the application of new technology, new risks have arisen.
From official websites to ticketing systems, broadcasting and scoring systems, sports events have become “arenas” for hackers, and there have been many instances of such malicious cyberattacks in history. For instance, criminals have previously tried to steal athletes’ and officials’ personal information to turn sports events into political events or to seek financial gain.
This year’s Asian Games, being the first “Smart Asian Games,” have incorporated a large number of intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things and 5G.
Xu Weihua, director-in-charge of the Information Technology Command Centre of the Hangzhou Asian Games, told the Global Times that they had almost 20 innovations at the Games that were the first of their kind.
One of the areas in which people could see technology make the biggest difference was in the implementation of the first “cloud Asian Games,” where 100 percent of the core system was supported by a cloud network, Xu explained. That means everything was faster – it only took five seconds for scores to be reflected in the system, for instance.
Yuan Mingkun, director general of the Hangzhou Asian Games’ security service provider DAS-Security, told the Global Times on Sunday that they had met with unprecedented challenges and pressure given that the number of events, venues, and participation was some five-fold greater than the Beijing Winter Olympic Games.
To address these new challenges, Yuan noted, a new model and updated platform combining AI, machine learning and other technologies debuted in August, which resulted in a more than 70 percent increase in the Games’ security operation effectiveness.
“In the past, identifying and analyzing suspicious network threats required multiple cybersecurity experts working 10 to 12 hours a day. But now with the new AI-powered model, these threats can be dealt with in just one second, significantly improving efficiency,” he said.
DAS-Security covered more than 40 core event systems, 87 venues, and cloud computing centers, spanning six cities during the Games. The competitions it covered included 40 major events and 481 sub-events.
Despite the number of participants, including spectators, athletes and service personnel, exceeding the scope of previous sports events, the Hangzhou Asian Games ensured no personal information was breached nor any security loopholes were utilized while conducting real-name authentication for security checks. This suggests that China’s network security capabilities are in line with international standards and have been recognized by the international community, Zhu Wei, a vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Sunday.
What’s more, throughout the Games there were no signal interruptions in the broadcasting or livestreaming of the events. This was all part of safeguarding information infrastructure security and served as a solid foundation for overall data security, Zhu said.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which was in charge of cybersecurity during the event, disposed of more than 64,000 malicious IP addresses and domain names on the internet, and removed more than 6,500 malicious programs prior to the Games. It also strengthened efforts to combat telecommunications and internet fraud, disposing of 110,000 suspicious telephone numbers, internet accounts and domain names.
Apart from cyberspace security, Hangzhou and Zhejiang authorities were given strong support in maintaining social harmony and stability, which allowed the Games to proceed smoothly, the Ministry of State Security said on Sunday.
Over the past 20 years, Zhejiang Province has consistently ranked among the top regions in terms of people’s satisfaction with their sense of security, and achieved continuous social and economic development. This can be attributed to an emphasis on risk governance, the promotion of the rule of law and digital empowerment, and improvements in assessment mechanisms, experts said.