The threat that malicious cyber actors represent to stadium operations is highlighted by Microsoft, which also notes that the cyber risk surface associated with live sporting events is “rapidly expanding.”
“Information on athletic performance, competitive advantage, and personal information is a lucrative target,” the business claimed in a Cyber Signals study published with The Hacker News. “A treasure trove of valuable information sought after by cybercriminals is housed by sports teams, major league and international sporting associations, and entertainment venues.”
“Unfortunately, due to the volume of connected devices and interconnected networks in these environments, this information can be vulnerable at-scale.” Hospitals that provide vital support and medical services to fans and athletes were singled out by the corporation as being the explicit targets of ransomware attacks that caused service interruptions.
Microsoft advises the following measures to protect against such attacks:
- Businesses shut down unneeded ports and make sure their networks are properly scanned for unauthorised or ad hoc wireless access points.
- Attendees secure their devices and apps with the most recent patches and upgrades, avoid accessing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi, and avoid reading QR codes from questionable sources.
- Stadium operations use logical network segmentations to separate IT and OT systems, limit cross-access to devices, and ensure point-of-sale (PoS) devices are patched, current, and connected to a separate network.
According to Microsoft, “organisations and security teams should configure their systems before the event to finish testing, take a system and device snapshot, and then make them easily accessible to IT teams to quickly redeploy when needed.”
These initiatives “go a long way towards discouraging adversaries from exploiting poorly configured, ad hoc networks within the highly desirable, target-rich environments of large sporting events,” according to the authors.