Cyber security and safety education specifically tailored to sport

  • Media Statement

Sport may be a national passion for millions of Australians, but that does not protect sporting organisations of any size from the mounting threat posed by cyberattacks and cybercriminals searching for easy wins.

One slip-up could delete a sporting organisation’s data, disclose personal details and information, take down competitions, lead to financial fraud or cause devastating reputational damage.

Sport Integrity Australia has developed a Cyber Safety and Security in Sport course.

The course includes input from the Australian Signals Directorate’s Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the eSafety Commissioner, to help sporting communities navigate cyber challenges and, ultimately, create a safer online environment for everyone in sport.

The cyber safety and security in sport course will help users:

  • Identify the cyber security risks facing their organisation, and the impact of getting it wrong.
  • Identify what to do if they are hacked.
  • Protect their accounts and devices.
  • Understand what to do if someone in their sport experiences online abuse.

Sport Integrity Australia Director of Education Alexis Cooper said the course provided sporting organisations with an immediate ability to upgrade their cyber security and online safety knowledge and help protect their members.

“Cyber security for sporting organisations is more relevant now than ever before,” Ms Cooper said.

"From grassroots clubs holding personal data through to national organisations hosting and participating in major international sporting events, inadequate cyber security can cripple sporting organisations.”

The Cyber Safety and Security in Sport course utilised a range of case studies from sporting organisations around the world, to give relevance to the cyber safety content, Ms Cooper said, and included much needed education about online abuse in sport and integrity threats, such as match-fixing approaches.

“There are examples from across the sporting landscape, from the English Premier League to international athletics meets all the way down to examples from community sporting clubs in Australia, to help educate sporting organisations on the scenarios they could face,” Ms Cooper said.

The course is designed for people who work or volunteer in sports – at all levels – so that they are aware of the potential threats they may face.

“Sadly, there are many negative experiences people endure online that are connected to their involvement in sport. To combat this, we have included information for sporting organisations on how to respond to situations involving online abuse,” Ms Cooper said.

“Social media direct messaging has also given match-fixers an easy avenue to approach athletes and administrators, so it’s important they be aware of how these approaches can occur and what to do if that happens.”

Dan Tripovich, Assistant Director-General Standards, Technical Advice and Research at the Australian Cyber Security Centre, said the recent spate of damaging cyber-attacks in Australia underscored the importance of lifting cyber security.

“This is a ‘Team Australia’ moment, with a role for every club and athlete,” Mr Tripovich said.

“The sophistication and impacts of cybercrime are increasing, meaning every sporting organisation has to be working as hard at their cyber security defence as they are working in the sports arena.

“This course helps sports organisations at a critical time, given the high-profile and highly damaging ransomware attacks in Australia in the past 12 months.”

Mr Tripovich said the average cost of a cyber security incident for a small business was now around $39,000 – something most sporting organisations cannot afford to lose.

“By educating our sporting organisations on what to look out for and how to respond to cyber threats, we can ensure everyone can reach the vital goal of more resilient data protection in our sporting sector,” he said.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said online abuse can take an incalculable mental health toll on participants. Especially when clubs find themselves facing a torrent of online abuse by disappointed fans.

“Some of the abuse we’re seeing is personal, racist, misogynistic, violent, even extending to death threats. This type of abuse is deeply harmful and can make participants feel unsafe, undermining their enjoyment and love of the game,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We want all Australians to know that eSafety is here as an online safety net and we have powers to remove serious online abuse.

“With the potential to help millions of sport-loving Australians, this online safety learning module will equip individual clubs with the knowledge and skills to support participants being abused online. This includes how to report serious abuse to esafety.gov.au. I congratulate Sport Integrity Australia on its leadership and for taking a systemic approach to online safety education.”

The Cyber Safety and Security in Sport eLearning course takes 45 minutes to complete and is available now on Sport Integrity Australia’s eLearning platform.

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