Posted on July 23, 2020 at 5:25 PM
Football clubs and other professional sports organizations have been asked to improve their cyber securities and close any loophole hackers may use to launch their attack. This is coming after Britain’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) revealed an English Premiership club was almost exposed when hackers infiltrated the email address of one of the club’s managing director.
NCSC said the hackers would have succeeded in stealing £1 million if the bank had not discovered the hacking plot and interfered.
One of several incidences
The improved activities of hackers in the past few months have affected almost all sectors and industries, and sport is not left out. This incident is one of several other cases pointing out that hackers are also interested in attacking sports administrators. It is also evidence that stakeholders in the industry need to improve on their security as cybercriminals intensify their criminal activities.
In a similar hacking incident, hackers placed ransomware in the servers of one of the Football League clubs, cutting off security systems and almost causing them to postponed a fixture. Both hacking attempts show the increased level of activities on sports by the cybercriminals.
Sports organizations asked to improve cybersecurity
NCSC director of operations, Paul Chichester, advised sports administrators to beef up their security now that cybercriminals are more interested in the industry.
“I would urge sporting bodies to use this time to look at where they can improve their cybersecurity,” he said.
He also reiterated that the sports organizations can protect millions of fans from the ripple effects of cyberattacks.
Other sports organizations have also received cyber threats. Recently, an employee at a racecourse lost £15,000 when he ordered grounds keeping equipment from a fake version of eBay.
Ransomware and fake emails are major attack methods
The NCSC revealed that hackers are always trying to infiltrate sports organizations on a daily basis. According to the security organization, hackers often do this by infiltrating systems with ransomware to shut down vital systems or sending fake emails to businesses. Consequently, the organization has asked sports institutions to back up their data to reduce consequences.
Paul said as sport is an integral part of humanity’s core activities, everyone is eagerly waiting for the return of fans to the stadium. And as people are waiting for a return of a busy sporting calendar with full stadiums, hackers are still trying to take maximum advantage of the current situation.
Paul also said as the sports sector is getting prepared to resume in full force, security may not be top on the agenda list. However, cybers criminals can pose a heavy problem if their activities are widely neglected, he reiterated.
The report by the NCSC is a crucial step in the right direction to help sports organizations understand the level of cyber threats they face.
Based on the report by the British Olympic Association, about 30 percent of hacking incidents in the sector led to direct financial loss, with an average of about £10,000 each time and the biggest single loss being more than £4 million.
Also, about 30 percent of the surveyed businesses revealed that they had been targets of more than 5 hacking attempts in the past year, while 70 percent of them said they’ve had at least one incident within that period.
Cybersecurity in sports needs to improve
The chief operating officer at a Rugby football league, Tony Sutton, said the league is taking the issue of cybersecurity very seriously. He said protecting stakeholders, customers, and the governing body of the league is very vital as they grow online platforms and digital capabilities.
He said the Rugby League welcomes the report as an important guide to the entire sports sector.
Chair of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson, said it’s very important to improve cybersecurity throughout the sports sector to reduce hacking incident. He said the level of cyberattack incidents in the sports sector can be reduced if organizations improve their security levels.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden also explained that everyone in the sports industry should take cybersecurity very seriously as most things have gone digital. And since sports is usually an attractive target for the cybercriminals, security around the sector should become tighter, he said.
To do this, the sports bodies should listen to the guidance of the NCSC and take necessary steps to improve security, which could save millions of pounds in the future, Dowen stated.