The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published a report ‘The Cyber Threat to Sports Organisations’. The NCSC found that inside a year (to spring 2019) in the UK 70% of sports institutions had suffered some form of cyber-attack. Around 30% of incidents led to a loss, and the average loss was more than £10,000 per incident. A wide variety of sports were targeted, including football, horse racing, rugby, tennis, cricket and athletics.
The report gives case studies of various threat trends:
- Business Email Compromise (BEC) led to a criminal intervening in an English Premier League player transfer, posing alternately as each club in the transaction to divert funds. The attack was thwarted by bank security flags;
- Cyber-enabled fraud (a fraud facilitated by cyber technology) led to a UK racecourse being defrauded in relation to grounds keeping equipment;
- Ransomware led to the shutdown of the CCTV and turnstile systems of an English Football League club, resulting in several hundreds of thousands of pounds of losses, even though the match was able to go ahead.
The Club subsequently identified that:
- the IT estate had grown organically and few security controls were in place. Office networks had internet connected industrial control systems bolted on, and then physical security hardware added – there was no planned security architecture.
- a lack of network segmentation.
- no emergency response plan and no previously conducted response exercises.
- the club had not recognised how digital/cyber reliant their business was, therefore, cyber security investment was low.
In effect, this means that the Club, like many other organisations, did not put enough thought or investment into cyber-security.