The Importance of Cybersecurity at Major Sporting Events

Plenty of preparation goes into the Super Bowl before we even know who's playing in it... especially putting in cybersecurity measures. Let's talk about the importance of cybersecurity at major sporting events. Did you even know we had to?

Imagine the thrill and excitement of a Super Bowl game... or really any major sporting event. Your only concerns are how your team is doing and maybe what you’re eating and drinking. 

But lurking behind the scenes is a hidden game, one where hackers and cyber threats are ready to score if you drop your guard.  

Threats and Vulnerabilities 

To start, let's talk about the threats and vulnerabilities that large sporting events face.  

As reported by cybersecurity experts like Rafal Los, hackers are quick to exploit the excitement and emotional involvement of these events. They use tactics like phishing emails with event-themed content to lure unsuspecting victims into clicking on malicious links or downloading malware. 

These attacks aim to steal credentials, install malware, or initiate ransomware attacks. As attendees and viewers, we need to stay vigilant even when caught up in the excitement of the event. 

Security Preparedness 

But it's not just the attendees and viewers who need to be cautious. Event security professionals have a significant role to play in reducing cyber risks.  

Monitoring for typo-squatting attacks and malicious content, as well as actively defending against them, is crucial. This ensures the event's digital presence remains secure.  

Cybersecurity Exercises 

Now, let's shift our focus to the proactive side of cybersecurity. 

In the lead-up to major events, organizations like the NFL and federal agencies conduct cybersecurity tabletop exercises. These simulations help assess and enhance response capabilities, ensuring everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in case of a cyberattack. 

In a recent example, CISA, the NFL, and partners held a tabletop exercise to prepare for Super Bowl LVIII (58).  

This exercise involves more than 100 partners and aims to review and strengthen cybersecurity plans and procedures. But why do sporting events present unique cybersecurity challenges? 

Well, it's because of the vast digital surface that needs protection.  

With a multitude of connected devices, networks, and venues, there are numerous entry points for cyberattacks. This complexity makes it imperative to have robust cybersecurity measures in place.  

Recent Cyberattacks  

Recent history has shown us that major sporting events are not immune to cyberattacks.  

From the Winter Olympics to the English Premier League, these events all experience cyber threats. 

Even the NFL's San Francisco 49ers fell victim to a ransomware attack just one day before the Super Bowl. 

Cybersecurity Recommendations 

What can event organizers and stakeholders do to protect themselves? 

Here are some cybersecurity recommendations: 

  • Augment the SOC team: Have a dedicated team monitoring the event around the clock 
  • Conduct a cyber risk assessment: Identify potential threats specific to the event and key stakeholders 
  • Implement strong access management: Limit access to systems and educate personnel 
  • Protect venue technology: Ensure systems are patched and segmented to prevent attacks 
  • Implement a multi-layered security framework: use firewalls, intrusion detection, and strong encryption 
  • Promote user awareness: Educate employees, stakeholders, and attendees about cybersecurity best practices.  

When it comes to these events, cybersecurity is not just about protecting data; it's about ensuring the safety of attendees, athletes, and the success of the event.  

Will you be keeping the privacy of your data in mind when watching the next big game? Let me know in the comments below.  


Check out our last video! ➡️ Your Business Has Hidden Cybersecurity Flaws

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