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Cyber Intelligence Insights

An unlevel playing field: Global sport and cyber threats

The sports sector frequently experiences cyber incidents. A range of threat actors have intent and capability to target the sector, including cyber criminals, insiders, hacktivists and nation-states.

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Global sport and cyber threats
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A new cyber insights report from CyberCX has found that the global sporting sector faces an increasingly hazardous cyber threat landscape as a broad range of threat actors demonstrate intent and capability to target sporting organisations and major events, with Australia becoming an increasingly attractive target.

 

The report reveals that there are a range of drivers for cyber threats in sport, including:

  • Economic drivers – Cyber extortion groups perceive sporting bodies to be more likely to pay ransoms to recover from operational disruptions.
  • Socio-political drivers – International profile and media attention makes sporting events attractive targets for advancing ideological and political issues, while association with prominent third-party brands and sponsors can attract controversy and political attention.
  • Geopolitical drivers – Sport is strongly associated with national identity and culture, increasing motivations for cyber espionage and influence campaigns. 
  • Technology and organisational drivers – Rapid scale up of staffing and infrastructure for sporting events can introduce complexity and vulnerability into processes and systems, while third-party ticketing providers and broadcast partners introduce supply chain risk.

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Key intelligence insights

  • The overall cyber threat level facing the sports sector is high.
  • Major events and sporting seasons increase sports organisations’ threat rating.
  • A range of threat actors have intent and capability to target the sector, including cyber criminals, insiders, hacktivists and nation-states.
  • CyberCX assess that the likelihood of cyber incidents in the sector will increase over 2024.

 

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Key attack types

  • Cyber extortion
  • Nation-state espionage and influence campaigns
  • Cyber-enabled betting fraud and other forms of sports corruption
  • Ideologically-motivated hacktivism
  • Insider events, both malicious and non-malicious
  • Business email compromise (BEC) fraud

Key threat vectors

  • Phishing
  • Unpatched vulnerabilities
  • Third party compromise
  • Misconfigured software, networks or hardware
  • Insufficient DDoS mitigations
  • Insecure ‘smart’ devices
  • Stolen or weak credentials
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Impacts of cyber incidents in the sports sector

Disruption

Reputational damage

Financial loss and IP theft

Sports integrity issues

Regulatory and legal impact

Personal safety and psychological harms

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Download the report


 

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