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Sports Industry Faces Growing Threat as Cyberattacks Target Billion-Dollar Organizations

As the NFL season approaches, the world of competitive sports has also found itself thrust into the crosshairs of cyberattacks. With operations at sports stadiums relying heavily on data centers and online networks, and athlete performance metrics and health data becoming more digitized, the billion-dollar sports industry has become an enticing target for malicious actors. Bindu Sundaresan, Director at AT&T Cybersecurity, recently shared the latest on how the sports industry is facing cyberattacks. According to Sundaresan, digital transformation by sports, like websites, social media accounts, cloud-based servers, and online databases, not only enhances fan engagement but also generates substantial revenue and vast amounts of valuable data, making them prime targets for hackers seeking financial gain or reputation damage.

Major sports events, renowned across the globe, offer an irresistible challenge for hackers to disrupt critical services or deface platforms, causing havoc and drawing attention to their exploits. Moreover, the massive audiences attending these events provide cybercriminals with ample opportunities to extort individuals through various online means.

The allure of easy money, valuable data, and the potential for tarnishing esteemed brands draws cybercriminals to the sports industry. The motives behind these cyberattacks vary widely, ranging from industrial espionage to identity theft, all of which can have far-reaching consequences for the targeted organizations.

Fortunately, sports organizations and leaders have taken note of this escalating threat landscape and are taking proactive measures to strengthen their defenses. Recognizing their vulnerability, these organizations are now gearing up to protect their assets, data, and reputation from the clutches of cybercriminals.

Amidst the rising risks, the sports industry is embracing cybersecurity best practices to mitigate potential breaches. "The goal for securing the sports industry is all about providing a Trusted Customer Experience, Operational Excellence, Digital Transformation, and Digital Resilience - which makes cybersecurity a team sport," said Bindu Sundaresan, AT&T Cybersecurity, Director

Ensure you have the right players and techniques by implementing vital security awareness training to help reduce the impact of phishing, improve password security and minimize the risks associated with using public Wi-Fi. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) will further help secure employee and talent accounts, both internal ones and across social media or public-facing platforms.

Utilizing least privilege access policies can also ensure that individuals only have access to what they need to do their jobs and no more, closing off more avenues of attack. Prioritizing endpoint security is required to keep at-home or remote workers protected, while regular pen testing and patching of any discovered vulnerabilities, especially those in web applications, can further reduce the attack surface. Finally, relevant enterprise security controls must be required across the network, hybrid cloud server, endpoint, and email or web gateways," says Sundaresan.

In the ever-competitive world of sports, where victories are determined by fractions of a second or inches on the field, the race against cyberattacks is no different. By taking proactive steps and investing in robust cybersecurity protocols, the sports industry endeavors to secure its legacy and ensure that the thrill of the game remains untainted by malicious actors seeking to exploit its vulnerabilities.



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