Football… A multi million pound global industry of elite athletes, many with celebrity status who enjoy all the golden trimmings that go with that.
For both clubs and players, reputation is key for maximising transfer fees, lucrative sponsorship deals and revenue opportunities.
However with all that glitters, comes the dark underside, the shadow, bringing an increase in the threats and attacks, making football and those within the industry an attractive target for cyber criminals.
In July 2020 the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) specially warned that cybercriminals were targeting UK sports teams with ransomware attacks. They reported that hackers froze turnstiles at a football game nearly causing the game to be cancelled, and at another premier club they attempted to steal a £1m club transfer fee, this was followed by Manchester United reporting in November that their IT systems had been impacted by a cyber attack.
Whilst premier football is probably one of the most attractive targets for cyber crime, the sports industry as a whole contributes £37 billion to the UK economy each year. The NCSC revealed that 70% of major UK sports organisations suffer a cyber attack every year, which is more than double the average for other businesses.
So whether it’s rugby, tennis, motor racing, cricket or even cycling, the sports sector needs to strengthen its cyber defenses. However it’s not just the premier level clubs and celebrity athletes who need to think strategically about security. Whilst many have upped their protection, that’s only the tip of the sporting iceberg
Smaller clubs in the national and regional leagues are key targets for criminals because they are less prepared and don’t have sufficient protection compared to some of the larger clubs. The same goes for niche sports, up and coming athletes, and membership organisations of any kind, all need to get ahead of the game and think seriously about cyber security. In fact, just last year we helped a non league club prevent data loss and reputational damage after their website was hacked. It reinforces the point that cyber security is a concern for any organisation that holds personal and sensitive data.
Just as when schools and university students returned to the classroom, now that sporting organisations and leisure clubs of all sizes plan for their return post COVID lockdown, there may be an increased risk of scam or phishing emails across the industry. So there is no better time for sporting and leisure clubs to get moving with their cyber security plans.
Here at Infosec Partners we offer a Cyber Risk Scorecard that provides an actionable and easy to understand report containing a real time assessment of cyber security risks, plus any areas that require further assessment. It’s a helpful assessment for clubs, athletes and membership organisations who need some help getting over the cyber starting line. Get in touch with the team if you would like to know more.