UK cybersecurity centre says Premier League clubs targeted by hackers

July 23 (Reuters) - Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned on Thursday that hackers are increasingly targeting soccer clubs in the Premier League in a wider attack on the country’s sports sector.

In a new report on cyber threat to sports organisations, the NCSC highlighted a case where the emails of a Premier League team's managing director were hacked before transfer talks, resulting in the 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) fee nearly falling into the hands of the hackers.

The report did not name the affected clubs and individuals, nor who could be behind the attacks.

The agency’s report, the first of its kind on threats to the sports industry by hackers, recommended Britain’s sports sector to tighten its cybersecurity measures.

Describing the sports sector as “a high-value target” for attackers, the NCSC said that at least 70% of Britain’s sports institutions suffer a cyber incident every 12 months, more than double the average for UK businesses.

About 30% of those incidents caused financial damage with an average cost of 10,000 pounds per incident, with the biggest single loss amounting to 4 million pounds.

“I would urge sporting bodies to use this time to look at where they can improve their cybersecurity”, Paul Chichester, director of operations at the NCSC said in the report.

“While cyber security might not be an obvious consideration for the sports sector as it thinks about its return (from the coronavirus outbreak), our findings show the impact of cybercriminals cashing in on this industry is very real.”

Hugh Robertson, chair of the British Olympic Association, described the report as a “crucial first step” in helping organisations better understand such threats and improve cybersecurity.

$1 = 0.7857 pounds Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam