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NCC Group, PSM and University of Oxford team up for cyber security in sport research

With the global sports industry expected to generate more than $500+ billion (USD) in revenue in 2022 alone, never has it been more of a lucrative target for cyber criminals.

Add to this the increased digital transformation and reliance of sports teams, venues and individuals on technology and you can see how the potential attack surface has exploded.

This month, NCC Group and Phoenix Sport & Media Group (PSMG) have kicked off a new research project in conjunction with The Oxford Researcher Strategy Consultancy (University of Oxford) delving into the world of cyber security in professional sport.

The research project, which will be carried out over the next few months will take a holistic view at how cyber security and cyber risk are treated, managed and understood at all levels in the industry, from organisations, to venues to athletes.

The research will be survey based to assess the current state of security practice in sport, while focus group interview sessions with various roles in the world of sport will be performed to gain more qualitative insight around current security maturity. Interviewees will cover a wide spectrum of roles from athletes to grounds people at sports venues, through to sports club chairs and executives. Interviewees will primarily be UK-based, spanning football (soccer), rugby, Formula One (F1) and horse racing.

As well as presenting the findings of interviews, discussion and site visits, the end result will be the creation of a framework for sports organisations to assess their cyber maturity, along with guidance on how to assess, prioritise and respond to the risks they face.

Matt Lewis, Global Head of Commercial Research at NCC Group, said; “Understanding the cyber threat and implementing an effective risk mitigation strategy is a challenge that many sports organisations do not either have the expertise, resources or time to focus on. It’s important that we gain an understanding of what the current state of play is across all facets of sport so we can understand current levels of maturity, and thus what organisations and individuals need to do to improve their cyber security posture and risk management strategies.”

Carly Barnes, CEO, Phoenix Sport & Media Group added: “As a collective we are looking to drive awareness of cyber security and the importance of being proactive in professional sport. It won’t simply be a matter of presenting our findings and leaving it there, we want to help sports teams, venues and individuals build a sustainable industry that can cope with the increasingly digital world we live in. By building awareness and helping to drive action, we can ensure the sports, venues and events that we love remain available and accessible in the face of the increased threat.”

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