F1 Is a High-Profile Sport, So It Tends to Attract Attention from Cybercriminals

F1 offers a mix of competition, technology, and a pinch of drama. It’s the most prestigious moto-racing competition worldwide, so nothing is quite like it. Every season, from March to December, teams battle extreme g-forces, making decisions in the blink of an eye. It’s hard, if not impossible, to win a race – the winner is decided by margins measured in thousands of seconds. To be the best, F1 drivers push their physical limits. Lewis Hamilton says it’s an extreme sport and should stay that way; after finishing a race, he trains even harder. The championship is contested over an unprecedented 24 Grands Prix on five continents.

F1 is watched by countless fans around the world, including the hundreds of thousands of people who head to the gates at each Grand Prix to have a clear bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the race. TV subscriptions offer access to live coverage of every session every weekend, plus a thorough back catalogue of historic races, documentaries, and shows. Fans are becoming younger and more diverse, with female participation doubling over the past couple of years. It probably has something to do with F1’s digital-first approach and initiatives like Netflix’s Drive To Survive.

Obviously, it’s not pleasant, but F1 tends to attract unwanted attention from malicious actors. Not that long ago, the organisers of the Belgian Grand Prix found themselves dealing with a cybersecurity breach after threat actors infiltrated the official contact email. To be more precise, fraudsters cracked the email account and initiated a phishing campaign aimed at fans eager to attend the event. Although event organisers issued warnings to customers, for some, it was too late. We live in a modern, ultra-connected world that has become a playground for hackers, and very few of us have experience with cybersecurity. 

Most Cyber Threats F1 Faces Are Well-Known to Organisations Worldwide  

F1’s biggest-ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix. Leading engineers are expecting Suzuka to be the ultimate challenge for drivers and their cars. Engines are purring, teams are prepping, and tension is mounting. Drivers, teams, and organisers aren’t just preparing for the on-track battle- they’re facing a new concern. F1, celebrated for its speed and cutting-edge technology, is vulnerable to cyber threats, which have the potential to adversely impact operations and performance. A successful attack can gain unauthorised access and damage/disrupt/steal sensitive data. Most of the cyber threats F1 struggles with will be familiar to organisations from all over the world. They include:

  • Phishing attacks: Fraudulent emails, text messages, phone calls, or websites are used to deceive people into revealing sensitive information (usernames, passwords, etc.) or installing malware. Mitigation requires a combination of technological, process, and people-based approaches. All must be taken into account for the defence to be genuinely effective. 
  • Ransomware: Extorsion software can hold data and devices hostage until a sum of money is paid. Ferrari was targeted by malicious actors in a ransomware attack that exposed customers’ personal data (names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses). Ferrari’s CEO stated the company didn’t pay the ransom demand.
  • Remote working: Remote work settings lack the same robust security measures as centralised office environments, so they create headaches in terms of cybersecurity. F1 bosses and engineers enjoy flexible work arrangements; some functions can be operated remotely. Unfortunately, cyberattacks against organisations continue to rise.

Cybercrime is slowly but surely becoming a business, and it impacts organisations of all sizes and sectors. In F1, the most significant threat comes from the most sophisticated online attackers who are insatiably curious about the secrets to team success.

The Sheer Amount of Data Makes F1 Look More Inviting to Cybercriminals

F1 cars are able to reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, and they’re increasingly driven by innovation and data. In case you didn’t know, the vehicles have 300 sensors that produce 100,000 data points, accumulating 1.5 terabytes of data over the course of a race. The data is made available for use as soon as it’s acquired; real-time collaboration is of the essence in F1, where every millisecond counts. Data breaches and other security compromises are possible. In 2007, McLaren, Ferrari, and Renault were accused of passing confidential technical information between them. The FIA looked into the matter, but it didn’t result in any penalty.   

Lawsuits are an everyday occurrence in the world of F1. The billion-dollar organisation is currently being sued by fans who’ve been told to leave the Las Vegas practice in 2023 due to the chaos caused. A loose drain cover slammed into Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari car. F1’s advanced engineering division is collaborating with companies and their intellectual property to prevent the misuse of data, which can be costly to customers. If you’ve been the victim of a data breach, visit https://www.databreachclaims.org.uk and find out what steps to take. Many people out there are exposed to the risk, so education is of the essence.

How Is F1 Fighting Back Against Hackers? Let’s See, Shall We? 

With all the talk about security threats and online attacks, it’s easy to think that malicious actors have the upper hand in the cyber war. Indeed, F1 is a tempting target for cybercriminals and sophisticated hackers, but there’s no reason to worry because extra precautions are taken around the circuit. George Kurtz, CEO of CrowdStrike, a global cybersecurity leader, supplies Mercedes with the much-needed technology to secure its networks, not to mention details about the evolving nature of cyber threats the members of the team could face. On the other hand, Ferrari has integrated Bitdefender Advanced Threat Intelligence into its operations to identify and respond to malicious attempts.

The cybersecurity of F1 is strong enough to protect against hazards, and it all starts with securing endpoints like computers, tablets, and other devices used daily. F1 doesn’t have full control, so the biggest focus is reducing the risk opportunity. It’s a never-ending task to stay on top of things, as the bad guys are a lot of guys. Threat actors will always be looking for ways to improve.

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