Sports clubs gather for summit on the cyber threat

13 Jan 2021 12:38 PM

The NCSC is hosting a cyber security meeting to help professional sports clubs and organisations protect themselves against cyber criminals.

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PROFESSIONAL sports clubs are being coached on how to reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber criminals.

The sports industry contributes £37 billion to the UK 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 UK businesses.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – is hosting the first-ever sports cyber security summit for over 180 representatives from a range of clubs and organisations, including 11 Premier League and 35 English Football League 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, yesterday said:

“We know that sports clubs and organisations are facing significant challenges managing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn't stop the UK sports industry being a highly attractive target for cyber criminals - and it's important that organisations are aware of this threat.

“It's great to see so many sports clubs and organisations coming together like this and showing they take cyber security seriously. Whether they were able to attend the summit or not, I would encourage all organisations in the sector to take the actionable steps set out in our Cyber Threat to the Sports Sector report.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman, yesterday said:

“We have a world-class sports sector and I am pleased the National Cyber Security Centre is supporting the industry with tailored cyber security advice.

“We know the financial power of the sector makes it a target for cyber criminals and I urge all sports organisations to follow the simple steps on offer in the free guidance before it is too late.”

The NCSC is specifically encouraging clubs and organisations to take actionable steps to ensure fair play online, including how to reduce the threat of ransomware attacks.

The NCSC is committed to raising cyber security and resilience across every part of the UK, and this includes supporting businesses, academia, and the charity sector, as well as the public through the Cyber Aware campaign.