In the wake of cyber attacks, the Premier League was close to being duped of £1million. This recent attack was a wake-up call to beef-up cybersecurity.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) explained that the bank’s intervention timely prevented the attack. The attack was made by hacking the email address of a Premier League club’s managing director during a transfer negotiation.
Also, a football league almost postponed its fixtures because of a ransomware attack that terminated its security systems.
The report—Cyber Threat to Sports Organisation—went ahead to mention another cyberattack that affected a member of the racecourse staff. The member lost £15,000 while trying to purchase groundskeeping equipment on a pseudo version of eBay.
Of course, these incidents and attacks are worrisome and call for heightened security measures. They have also sparked the interest of figure-heads in top sports organizations: chairman of the British Olympic Association, director of operations at NCSC, chief operating officer at Rugby football league, etc.
The chairman of the British Olympic Association, Sir Hugh Robertson, said this in the report: “Improving cybersecurity across the sports sector is critical. The British Olympic Association sees this report as a crucial first step, helping sports organizations better understand the threat and highlight practical steps that organizations should take to improve cybersecurity practices.”
Tony Sutton, chief operating officer at the Rugby Football League, said it was taking the issue “seriously”.
“As we grow our digital capabilities and online platforms, protecting the governing body, our members, customers, and stakeholders are paramount,” he said. “We welcome the NCSC report and the guidance it offers the sports sector.”
Paul Chichester, director of operations at the NCSC, said: “Sport is a pillar of many of our lives. We’re eagerly anticipating the return to full stadiums and a busy sporting calendar. While cybersecurity might not be an obvious consideration for the sports sector as it thinks about its return, our findings show the impact of cybercriminals cashing in on this industry is very real.
I would urge sporting bodies to use this time to look at where they can improve their cybersecurity; doing so will help protect them and millions of fans from the consequences of cybercrime.”
According to the NCSC report, hackers are constantly trying to breach sporting organizations via either ransomware or attacking business emails. “Around 30% of incidents caused direct financial damage, averaging around £10,000 each time; with the biggest single loss being over £4m. More than 70% of those businesses surveyed said they had experienced at least one incident in the past year, with 30% saying they had witnessed more than five in that time.”
Sports organizations are to install back-up plans in case of an attack;or develop enhanced security measures to counter an attack.