Microsoft recently released its fifth edition of Cyber Signals, which focuses on the cybersecurity threats faced by large venues and sporting events. The report is based on the company’s experience of providing cybersecurity support during the FIFA World Cup 2022™ held in Qatar.
Large events and venues are highly vulnerable to cyber threats due to the valuable information they house and the increasing number of interconnected networks and devices in these environments. From sports teams and associations to attendees, there is a trove of valuable data desired by cybercriminals.
Venue IT systems and arenas are particularly at risk, as they often contain numerous known and unknown vulnerabilities. Threat actors can target critical business services like point of sale systems, IT infrastructures, and visitor devices. Athletes and attendees also face the risk of data loss, including personal identifiable information.
To address these threats, Microsoft’s Defender Experts for Hunting developed comprehensive cybersecurity defenses for facilities and organizations involved in the soccer tournament. They conducted a thorough risk assessment, analyzed threat actor profiles, and leveraged global intelligence to provide cybersecurity defenses. This effort involved analyzing over 634.4 million events during November and December of 2022.
The unique nature of sporting and entertainment events presents a higher level of cyber risk and vulnerability. The temporary and sometimes hastily organized nature of these events means that security measures are often not adequately designed and refined. Privacy risks related to temporary and ad-hoc cyber infrastructure must also be considered.
To protect against cybersecurity threats, sports associations, teams, and venues should prioritize the implementation of a comprehensive and multi-layered security framework. This includes deploying firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and strong encryption protocols. Regular security audits and vulnerability assessments should be conducted to identify and address weaknesses.
In addition, employee and stakeholder education on cybersecurity best practices is crucial. This includes recognizing phishing emails, using multifactor authentication, and avoiding suspicious links. Collaboration with reputable cybersecurity firms for continuous monitoring and rapid incident response is also essential.
By adopting these proactive measures, sports associations, teams, and venues can enhance their resilience against cyberattacks and safeguard their infrastructure and the sensitive information of their patrons.