Feds fear high sophisticated attacks at Super Bowl 50

Pierluigi Paganini January 20, 2016

Federal security officials fear that attacks on fiber optic systems in the Bay Area may pose a threat to Super Bowl 50

A security memo issued by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security is warning of the dangers of a high-tech attack against crowds at the next Super Bowl 50.

The event will be held in the San Francisco 49ers stadium in Santa Clara on February 7 and it could represent a great opportunity for hackers, and attackers more in general.

The event will take media coverage as few and therefore treat many actors may try to exploit the moment to launch an attack against the crowd.

The annual Super Bowl event has a media coverage as few and therefore many threat actors may try to exploit the moment to launch an attack against the crowd. Another thing to consider is the combination with other commemoration events that will be held in San Francisco and in the Silicon Valley in the same period.

The memo is warning about possible high-tech attacks against critical location that would cause problems. Security experts, and my readers too, are aware of a number of sabotages against fiber cables in the same area.

Super Bowl 50 terrorism

Fiber cable networks serve also as backs up communications systems in emergency situations, attackers could destroy it to slow down response times and operate undisturbed.

According to the authorities, at least, 10 fiber optic cables were sabotaged between July 2014 and June 2015, and according to Michele Ernst, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Francisco field office, there have been 15 attacks against fiber optic lines in the same area since 2014.

Most of the incidents occurred in an area within 40 miles from the Levi’s Stadium, some of the attacks very close to the locations interested by the sport event.

According to the document obtained by the NBC, there is the concrete risk that similar incidents could occur, the memo warns previous sabotages could have been a drill for a terrorist attack.

“The memo, obtained by the News4 I-Team, says “the FBI and DHS have no information to indicate any specific, credible threats to or associated with Super Bowl 50 or related events.” But it also details the attacks against the fiber optic systems, the threat of drones against the game and potential game-day attacks in crowded spaces just outside Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the host site of Super Bowl 50.” states the NBC. “The memo acknowledges lone wolf attackers “are of particular concern” to the game due to their ability to remain undetected before attacking.”

The US intelligence and law enforcement agencies fear the action of lone wolf attackers

The outage attacks “raise the concern individuals may be using these incidents to test and prod network durability in conjunction with a more complex plot,” the memo said.

Not only are the cables to worry the authorities, but also drones. The law enforcement fears the involvement of unmanned aerial vehicles in the attacks. “Malicious actors” could use them against crowds at the next Super Bowl, or as reconnaissance instrument.

“[Drones] may present a low-altitude hazard to aviation assets supporting the event, allow unauthorized video coverage of events, or pose a risk of injury to event-goers if an operator loses control of a [drone],” according to homeland security analysis. 

The intelligence fears that a group of terrorists could attack spaces neighboring the stadium where the Super Bowl 50 will be held.

“The FBI and DHS assess the most vulnerable targets of opportunity during Super Bowl 50 are not inside Levi’s Stadium itself, but outside the stadium and at other venues where crowds will gather for related events,” the assessment said.

It continued: “Additionally, unsuccessful suspicious entry attempts into an event venue, such as what occurred in the 13 November 2015 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacks outside a stadium in Paris, may result in a subject’s movement to a less secure area for potential attacks or criminal activity.”

The event organizers confirmed that they are on maximum alert, but it is not a novelty for sport events like the Super Bowl 50,  the NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told NBC that security for all Super Bowls and NFL events have been “at a heightened state of alert” since Sept. 11, 2001.

“We have been working for more than a year with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state and local level in preparation for Super Bowl 50,” McCarthy said. “We have confidence in our law enforcement and public safety partners and have an effective and comprehensive plan in place to make Super Bowl 50 a safe and exciting event for our fans.”

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Super Bowl 50, Terrorism)

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