A New Era of Threats Emphasize the Importance of Modern Pro Sports Security

At the recent 2023 RSA Conference in San Francisco, security topics of all kinds came up in discussion. From personal identity online to looming cyber threats facing the government and institutions, from artificial intelligence (AI) to threats facing the music industry, the conference painted a broad picture of where we are today in addressing security threats that impact all private and public sectors.

One area that was particularly interesting was an examination of how the professional sports industry is taking stock of the current convergence of cyber and physical security challenges.

In a new piece, James Coker from Infosecurity Magazine detailed ways in which leaders from pro basketball, football, and hockey address modern threats.

Coker quotes chief information security officers (CISOs) from the three professional sports leagues — Steve Grossman from the National Basketball Association, the National Football League’s Tomás Maldonado, and Drew Monroe of the National Hockey League. All three security leaders highlighted the fact that cyber threats facing teams and leagues filter to the physical. Threats that face major sporting events might “impact the health and safety of fans,” according to Maldonado.

The football security official cited the example of the parking lot for a stadium being altered, misdirecting attendees to drive in the wrong direction. It goes without saying the significant physical security threats that poses. This hypothetical enters the realm of the reality given that the technology utilized by stadiums is all network based.

“The threats you have to manage are endless,” Monroe said at the conference. He pointed to the reality that many of these different systems are managed by different people — they are siloed away and often don’t fall under the umbrella of one department.

For his part, Grossman said the NBA does a good job of coordinating between departments to ensure the security tech that oversees the entrance to the stadium, the nearby parking garage, and the announcers’ booth — in just some examples — are all aligned with clear protocols and teams working together to ensure breaches don’t happen.

One of the keys to ensuring fans and athletes remain safe during major sporting events, the panelists emphasized the importance of collaborating with government agencies like the CISA and the FBI.

“Due to the physical safety aspect of sports cybersecurity, and the nationwide geographic region that needs to be covered, these relationships are critical to understand and mitigate new threats quickly,” Coker writes.

Published by Peter Cavicchia

Peter Cavicchia is a retired U.S. Secret Service Senior Executive, now Chairman of the security consulting firm Strategic Services International LLC. https://petecavicchia.com/

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