Cybersecurity in the Sports Industry: 4 Things Sporting Organisations Should Know

By Guest writer, Thu 26 May 2022 11:26

Cybersecurity in the Sports Industry: 4 Things Sporting Organisations Should Know 

Cyber-attacks are a real threat to sports and massive sporting organisations. For this reason, cybersecurity measures are of the utmost importance, and leaders must take action now.

The global sports industry is far from being one of the smaller ones. Its market size in 2022 is expected to reach $501.43 billion, a growth from last year’s $354.96 billion. After necessary yet severe coronavirus restrictions implementing social distancing, nationwide lockdowns, remote working and cancellation of massive sporting events – and events of all kinds – to avoid physical interaction in an attempt to lower the risk and the rate of spreading the virus, the sports industry came back stronger. By 2026, the global sports market size is expected to grow even more, reaching a whopping $707.84 billion.

With such exponential growth comes a significant threat of cyberattacks, especially since more and more companies, and sports organisations as well, are reliant on digital technologies and software tools. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that leaders in this industry work together to increase protection from this ever-growing real threat. Individually, sports organisations must strengthen their cybersecurity measures to prevent cyber-attacks and data breaches that could potentially harm professional players, clients and various sports entities.

In the event of a data breach, it is imperative to know that victims are entitled to file GDPR claims to cover any financial loss as a result of the breach. Not to mention that going through this experience can be somewhat traumatising, given that your data, such as personal information, medical records and even bank details, are illegally accessed to be disclosed, stolen or destroyed. 

Therefore, apart from financial and information loss, this experience causes emotional and mental distress as well. So, it is crucial to know you can claim data breach compensation in the UK if you are ever a victim of this cyber-attack.

This being said, there is no denying the importance of cybersecurity measures in any business and organisation, and the sports industry is not an exception. With such significant market size, it is of the utmost importance for sporting organisations to take the necessary measures as soon as possible to increase their cybersecurity measures and lower the risks of data breaches, ransomware and other forms of cyber-attacks.

For instance, a ransomware gang known as BlackByte has attacked the famous American football team and storied franchise in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers, and claimed to have stolen various sensitive documents of the team, including financial data. The football team confirmed disruption to their network and corporate IT systems. This shows how crucial it is to implement cybersecurity measures or hire a professional cybersecurity company to inspect and strengthen your IT network systems.

The key takeaway is that sporting organisations must take cybersecurity very seriously. Here are some of the reasons why cybersecurity should be implemented in sports:


  1. Sports entities have become a tempting target.

It isn’t surprising that there are big names in the sports industry and, therefore, significant budgets are attached to famous sports teams and popular players. For this reason, sports entities and organisations have become a massive tempting target for cyber-attackers. 

As a result, it can be seen that the sports industry is more and more exposed to these types of attacks, with hackers getting more confident in attacking big names in the industry, such as FIFA or Manchester United with the ransomware attack in 2020. Not to mention that, nowadays, cyber-attackers chase notoriety. Therefore, the sports industry is a relatively new area for them to explore, given the popularity of numerous sports teams, ensuring their work will be discussed a great deal.


  1. Great reliance on tech and digital technologies.

Every individual, business, and organisation have become incredibly reliant on digital technologies, apps, networking platforms and various devices and gadgets that allow users to access them. The sports industry is no different. As with any other business, especially one that is so dependent on large audiences – sports fans are perhaps the most passionate – there is no denying that tech and digital tools and technologies are a massive aspect. Famous sports teams and players use social media, have official websites, email accounts and so on. 

While this is necessary, given that digital technologies and digitalisation are crucial in this day and age to stay relevant and reach target audiences effectively, they also make organisations and individuals prone to cyber-attacks. For this reason, sporting entities must invest in cybersecurity measures.


  1. Cyber-attackers are a faceless enemy. 

Another reason why cybersecurity should be strengthened and updated measures taken is because cyber-attackers represent a faceless enemy you rarely see coming. In this case, the solution is to have solid cybersecurity actions in place. Because these measures can improve security significantly, you can prevent severe attacks such as tremendous data breaches or ransomware attacks.

It is unlikely you will see the face behind these attacks. However, what you can do is understand their behaviour and what drives them in order to lower the risks of cyberattacks. More often than not, hackers who target sports organisations are driven by financial gains. This means their motivation is extortion, and because sports organisations include big names in the industry, as mentioned earlier, the risk of a cyberattack is increasingly high.


  1. Email communication remains the first choice among sporting organisations.

Email communication is undoubtedly widely used across the globe by individuals and businesses alike. While this tool is highly useful and will continue to be used by many, it isn’t free of cybersecurity risks. In fact, communication channels via email between organisations contain sensitive information which is precisely targeted by cyber-attackers. 

Sporting organisations rely heavily on email communication. They will include crucial details about multimillion-dollar deals in sponsorship projects as well as player transfers that shouldn’t be divulged. So, it is vital to acknowledge the risk of using emails without proper cybersecurity measures in place. An example of how risky this is can be seen when the football club Lazio was forced to pay an unknown cyber-attacker 2 million euros after the organisation’s email was hacked.


Final Words

Cybersecurity measures have become a must for businesses and organisations of all kinds. The sports industry faces more cyber-attacks, and their threat has increased, with hackers being drawn to big names in the industry and seeing an opportunity. For this reason, sporting organisations must strengthen their cybersecurity systems.