Professional sports clubs in the U.K. have received coaching on how to reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber criminals.
The sports industry contributes £37 billion to the U.K. economy each year and is seen as a high-value target by cyber criminals, with at least 70% of institutions suffering a cyber incident every 12 months – more than double the average for U.K. businesses.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – hosted the first-ever sports cyber security summit on January 13 for over 180 representatives from a range of clubs and organizations, including 11 Premier League and 35 English Football League soccer teams, rugby and cricket clubs and a range of national governing bodies.
The virtual meeting comes shortly after the publication of the NCSC’s Cyber Threat to the Sports Sector in 2020, which revealed cyber criminal activity including an attempt to sabotage a transfer deal involving a Premier League team.
Other incidents included an attack which brought the turnstiles of a football club to a standstill and almost led to the cancellation of a match, while a member of staff at a racecourse lost £15,000 in a scam involving the spoofing of eBay.
Sarah Lyons, NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society, said:
“We know that sports clubs and organizations are facing significant challenges managing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t stop the U.K. sports industry being a highly attractive target for cyber criminals – and it’s important that organizations are aware of this threat.
“It’s great to see so many sports clubs and organizations coming together like this and showing they take cybersecurity seriously. Whether they were able to attend the summit or not, I would encourage all organizations in the sector to take the actionable steps set out in our ‘Cyber Threat to the Sports Sector’ report.”
The U.K.’s Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman, said:
“We have a world-class sports sector and I am pleased the National Cyber Security Centre is supporting the industry with tailored cybersecurity advice.
“We know the financial power of the sector makes it a target for cyber criminals and I urge all sports organizations to follow the simple steps on offer in the free guidance before it is too late.”
The NCSC is specifically encouraging clubs and organizations to take actionable steps to ensure fair play online, including how to reduce the threat of ransomware attacks.