Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is urging sports clubs and organisations to tighten up their online security after looking into the sector’s vulnerability to cyber attack.
The centre’s first report on threats to the lucrative industry revealed it to be a frequent target: at least 70% of institutions within it suffer a cyber incident every year, more than double the average for UK businesses.
Incidents highlighted in the report include:
- Hackers gaining access to the email address of a Premier League managing director during negotiations for a footballer transfer with only late intervention by the bank preventing the club losing almost £1m (US$1.25m, €1.10m);
- An English Football League club suffering a ransomware attack which crippled their corporate and security systems resulting in the ground’s CCTV and turnstiles being unable to operate, almost leading to a fixture cancellation;
- A member of staff at a racecourse agreeing to buy an item of ground-keeping equipment via eBay for £15,000, only for the sale to be fraudulent as a spoofed version of eBay had been created. The staff member was unable to recover the money; and
- An employee at an organisation which holds athlete performance data having their email address compromised, allowing hackers access to sensitive information for several months.
The report found around 30% of cyber incidents caused direct financial loss which averaged £10,000 a time, with the biggest single amount topping £4m.
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