18.11.2019

Cybersecurity And Professional Sports: Securing The Internet Of Sports

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Over the past few years, companies in all markets have embraced digital transformation, whether it is financial services finding new mechanisms to engage with customers or manufacturers adding sensors and other data collection components into their operational processes. These digital transformation efforts are about leveraging digital insights to drive better outcomes.

Digital transformation has value in the world of professional sports as well, with many teams and individual athletes migrating from a purely analog environment to a digital one. In a highly connected digitized world, every aspect of an athlete’s daily training routine and diet can be actively tracked. Consider the world-famous Tour de France cycling race; as recently as six to seven years ago, riders received updates on their positions via a number written on a mini chalkboard held up by race staff on a motorcycle. Now, riders’ progress is tracked in real time electronically and relayed to cyclists directly from devices on each bicycle. In motorsports such as Formula 1 racing, sensors on the racecar enable teams to monitor every aspect of the car in real time, resulting in over three terabytes of data being generated in a given race, a far cry from the days of handheld stopwatches for timing and analog gauges on the vehicle. This provides better insight for the team but also greatly enhances the live viewing and fan experience, as well.

While teams are leveraging the increased digitization of athletics, the digitization of sports also means that this data must now be stored and secured. In the internet of sports, the threat actor motivations are often different from traditional attacks that are looking to extract payment information or PII. In the internet of sports, the threat actors may be rival teams seeking data to influence match outcomes or exfiltrating data to identify possible athlete usage of performance-enhancing drugs. As the below figure shows, there have already been a host of cyberattacks against individual teams in many organized sports.

To learn more about the internet of sports, please read my latest report, “Securing The Internet Of Sports,” which is available here. This report outlines the current state of the sports industry and provides guidance to help S&R pros understand how to minimize the risk of data loss, physical damage, and forfeiture of competitive advantage. It also covers some of the security technologies that are being used to secure sport facilities and drive a better fan experience.

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