Cyber Threats to Sports Organizations and How to Deal with Them

Cyberthreats are not commonly associated with the sports industry. Yet, sports organizations are regularly suffering from cyber attacks.

For instance, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018 were hit by a cyberattack which resulted in a massive data leak during the opening ceremony. 

On another occasion, 15 NFL teams got their Twitter and Facebook accounts hacked in 2020. This led to false information spread and reputational damage to the entire organization.

Hackers who took responsibility for the attack claimed the breach aimed to show that “everything is hackable.”

One may wonder why sports institutions that operate billions of dollars and can invest in decent cybersecurity remain vulnerable to cyber threats?

The technology to protect valuable information is out there, but there isn’t enough knowledge on how to use it.

Here, we share five valuable tips on how to improve your cyber defenses within a sports organization.

Make Cybersecurity A Priority 

In the US, the average data breach can set the victim back $3.86 million. 

Sports organizations conduct plenty of digital operations daily. Managing fans’ databases and social media accounts, tracking financial operations and dealing with communications – is just a small part of the digital activities.

Making cybersecurity a priority means protecting all your digital assets and educating your staff on the importance of cyber hygiene. 

To achieve this, acquire necessary security tools yourself or hire experienced personnel to take over your cybersecurity.

Use Strong Passwords

Just as regular Americans, who opt for weaker passwords and get hacked, sports organizations fall victim to this too. Yet, this oversight can be quite costly.

Sports databases contain a massive amount of data that can be compromised. 

Private phone numbers, email addresses, financial credentials, and even the home address of the players and organization members have to be kept secure. 

One of the ways to protect vital information is to use a strong password manager across all platforms and users. Besides security reasons, it’ll also reduce the password burden on stuff. 

Educate the Employers

Unfortunately, cybersecurity can be compromised from within a sporting organization. A part of hackers’ job is to trick people into making mistakes. Your employees may not even intend to do any harm but still put valuable data at risk.

Invest in cybersecurity education for your employees to increase cybersecurity awareness. Make sure that the training is:

  • Relatable to their daily activities
  • Easy-to-understand and implement
  • Covers a diversity of digital tools that are used within the organization

Cybersecurity training will teach your staff how to spot and report suspicious activity straight away. Eventually, you’ll minimize the risk of network intrusion and prevent possible damage in the future.

Get a Strong VPN

A VPN stands for “Virtual Personal Network.” Its main functions are to mask your activity online, protect corporate data, and manage user access to that data.

A VPN secures your internet connection and prevents potential data breaches.

For a sports organization, this means protecting:

  • Corporate emails
  • Financial transactions
  • Player contracts
  • Employee and fan contact information

Keep Cybersecurity Software Up to Date

Software updates may seem redundant. Yet, it’s crucial to regularly update the software once it’s been installed. 

Cyber threats are constantly changing and evolving. That’s why software providers regularly offer system updates to ensure they can deal with emerging threats.

If you don’t update your OS, you leave it vulnerable to data breaches and other cyber attacks. An easy way to keep your software up-to-date is to turn on automatic updates and make sure you leave your device unattended while it installs. 

Final Thoughts

Modern hackers can find a way around lots of different safety measures. And yet, implementing at least some security practices from our list will significantly reduce the risk of being attacked.

Invest in a strong password manager and VPN, raise cybersecurity awareness among employees, stay on top of all software updates, and make sure that cybersecurity remains a priority. This way, you’ll be one step ahead of hackers.

Huynh Nguyen

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