Cybersecurity in Sports: A New Arena for Risk Management

In the high-stakes world of professional sports, the action isn’t just on the field. Behind the scenes, a digital battle rages as cybercriminals target teams, players, and fans. According to a recent Reuters report, here’s why the sports industry is on high alert and how it’s fighting back. 

Alarming Surge in Attacks

In recent years, 70% of sports organizations faced cyberattacks annually, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre. These attacks are driven by financial gain, political motives, and even nation-state agendas.

High-Profile Incidents

Ransomware has struck major teams, including the San Francisco 49ers and Manchester United. In 2019, hackers targeted the Atlanta Hawks’ online store, stealing customer payment info. Insider threats also loom large, as seen in the 2018 phishing scam that duped Italian football club Lazio out of £1.75 million.

Data Under Siege

Sports teams’ reliance on data makes them prime targets. The infamous 2015 hack by the St. Louis Cardinals into the Houston Astros’ database exposed the industry’s vulnerability to corporate espionage.

Best Practices

To combat these threats, experts recommend:

  • Know Your Data: Identify and protect sensitive information.
  • Secure Vendors: Regularly assess third-party risks.
  • Strong Authentication: Implement multi-factor authentication.
  • Monitor Networks: Use tools to detect suspicious activity.
  • Preparedness: Maintain an up-to-date incident response plan.

The sports industry must act now to fortify its defenses against the relentless tide of cyber threats. The stakes have never been higher.

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