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The PGA of America was targeted in hack for ransom attack this week, as employees suddenly found themselves locked out of their files.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 9, 2018
The hackers have encrypted files containing marketing materials relating to the PGA Championship at Bellerive and next month’s Ryder Cup in France.
Instead of their work on promotional banners and logos, staff found a threatening message on their computers:
“Your network has been penetrated. All files on each host in the network have been encrypted with a strong algorythm.” [sic]
Spelling obviously isn’t one of the hackers areas of expertise, but they’ve effectively taken control of some of the PGA of America’s assets.
The hackers left a Bitcoin wallet number, but didn’t specify the amount they want in ransom. Their message to staff went on to say that any attempts at decryption could cause the loss of all data.
“We exclusively have decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public.”
The PGA of America reportedly has hired third-party security experts to help solve the problem. The organization has been advised not to pay any ransom.
It should be noted that the only files affected by this attack are concerned with marketing. The hackers haven’t gained any access to any scoring or other data involved in sports betting.
Legal Sports Report reached out to Genius Sports for comment, but instead received a response from PGA Tour counsel David Miller:
“I want to clarify that the hack was of marketing materials of the PGA of America, the association of club professionals. They do not collect or distribute scoring or performance data for any professional golf events, including this week’s PGA Championship. (The PGA Tour does.)”
The take away for bettors interested in golf is that the PGA of America hack does not relate directly to the integrity of sports betting data.
The PGA of America is not involved in providing sports betting. The PGA Tour, which does provide data, is partnered with Genius, one of the world’s largest integrity service companies.
The Tour has been supportive of NBA/MLB state-level lobbying efforts that include an integrity fee and purchase of official league data. Golf could provide an interesting one-off case with regard to its specialized data.
Over the last decade, sports betting data provision has become a very big business and its integrity has become an incredibly sophisticated specialism.
Genius is the PGA Tour integrity provider for the data used in sports betting, so they know their way around data security. On the Genius corporate website, the relationship with the PGA Tour is used as a case study for how Genius manages sports betting data.
In January, the PGA Tour and Genius Sports launched a new integrity program to “maintain integrity and prevent and mitigate betting-related corruption in PGA Tour competitions.”
The new system monitors betting market worldwide 24/7. It uses predictive algorithms to flag any suspicious activity for further investigation.
Modern integrity systems go far beyond the IT aspect. Genius has also developed a “customised e-learning service which the PGA Tour has made mandatory for all players, caddies and officials. It enables the Tour to clearly demonstrate the rules, expectations and consequences associated with betting-related corruption for stakeholders around the world.”