United States: Hacking Scandals Highlight Vulnerabilities For Teams And Leagues

On April 3, the International Association of Athletics Federations announced that it had been the victim of a cyberattack, seemingly at the hands of Fancy Bear, a Russian hacking group. The IAAF indicated that the hackers targeted athletes' therapeutic use exemption applications which, if granted, allow athletes to use otherwise prohibited substances for therapeutic purposes (e.g. to treat illnesses). While this certainly is not the first instance of a hacking scandal in the world of professional sports, it and other recent incidents highlight the need for increased cybersecurity vigilance at sports organizations.

Recent cybersecurity scandals

Several hacking incidents over the past few years, involving the publication of confidential information or the defacement of websites, have been politically motivated. In addition to its recent hacking of the IAAF, Fancy Bear previously had hacked the World Anti-Doping Agency and published lists of Olympic athletes who filed TUE applications. According to Fancy Bear's website, its motivation was in "exposing the athletes who violate the principles of fair play by taking doping substances."

In a similar incident in 2015, Team Sky alleged that someone hacked into Tour de France champion Chris Froome's performance data as part of a campaign to prove that he is using performanceenhancing drugs.

In separate instances in 2014, an English rugby team's website was hacked by ISIS and FC Barcelona's Twitter account was hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army. In both cases, the hackers used the team's online platform to display their organizations' extremist messages.

While each of the preceding hacking incidents was seemingly perpetrated by hacktivists, another high-profile scandal demonstrates that hacking can be done for competitive purposes. Chris Correa, the St. Louis Cardinals' former director of baseball development, obtained a password from a former Cardinals employee who began working for the Houston Astros. Correa used the password to access an Astros email account and "Ground Control," a database used by the Astros to compile information on players such as scouting reports, statistics, contract information and draft rankings. Correa accessed Ground Control during the 2013 draft to view the Astros' internal, non-public information regarding undrafted players. Correa again accessed Ground Control before the 2013 trade deadline to view the Astros' internal, non-public information regarding its trade discussions with other teams. Correa pleaded guilty to criminal hacking charges and a federal judge principally sentenced him to 46 months imprisonment and ordered that he pay the Astros $279,038 in restitution.

Teams are vulnerable to attack not only through hacking, but also through social engineering. In 2016, the Milwaukee Bucks were victims of a phishing scam and released tax information, including Social Security numbers, of all its employees and players. An unknown party, impersonating Bucks President Peter Feigin, requested the information from a Bucks employee using a spoof email address.

Managing cybersecurity risks

With hacking incidents on the rise, teams are becoming attractive targets as they generate a significant volume of internal communications and confidential data. Through increased use of wearable technology and data analytics, professional sports teams can collect massive amounts of data on recruiting, training and performance evaluations, all of which are valuable targets to a whole host of actors, including competitors, gamblers and online "brokers" looking to sell this information to the highest bidder.

Teams and leagues also have incredibly sensitive information relating to the organizations' business dealings, including salary negotiations, sponsorships and advertising. And, of course, they retain and store payment card data from online transactions, all of which are classic targets for malicious cyberactivity. In short, professional sports teams and leagues can be an enticing prey for cybercriminal actors. The combination of valuable data, weak internal controls and poorly protected websites and social media accounts can be toxic in any industry.

So what to do about it?

One preventative measure that can be taken is to design a data governance system before any breach arises. Such a system would require implementing privacy policies and notices. In order to ensure the efficacy of a data governance system, a team should provide training on information security best practices to ensure that all employees take the appropriate security precautions in handling their computers and in safeguarding access to the team's systems. Since not all rogue behaviors or malicious actors can be prevented or stopped, having an incident response plan will best help organizations "game plan" various scenarios that could result in monetary or reputational damage.

The best offense is a strong defense, and effective incident response plans are critical in helping the organization calmly navigate its reaction to a cybersecurity breach. When properly tailored and thought through, such plans limit damage and dramatically reduce recovery time and costs. Indeed, time can be an organization's worst enemy in a cybersecurity breach, and incident response plans train the organization and its employees to respond quickly and efficiently, which has the net effect of limiting damage and managing employee concerns.

As we have seen, cybersecurity risks are no longer hypothetical in the sports industry as teams and leagues have become attractive targets. Promoting cybersecurity awareness and preparing an incident response plan are effective ways for members of this industry to protect their products and mitigate against any unauthorized intrusions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions