Cisco and NFL on Security

The road to the big game calls for the best protection

From securing stadiums, broadcasts, and fans to protecting the largest live sporting event in America, Cisco is proud to be an official cybersecurity partner of the NFL.

Having worked together during Super Bowl LVI in 2022 and Super Bowl LVII in 2023, Cisco and the NFL have forged a legacy of an unforgettable experience for fans, teams, and stadium partners.

During the Super Bowl, the NFL uses a collection of integrated Cisco security solutions to provide:

  • Phishing, malware, and ransomware protection
  • Threat intelligence
  • End-to-end visibility across the network

Incident commanders from Talos Incident Response (CTIR), as well as members of our customer experience team, support the NFL on site before, during, and after the Big Game.

Cisco looks forward to continuing its partnership with the NFL during the 2023–2024 season.


 

Outcomes

Always on

Provided 100% uptime for the live gameday event for 100 million viewers

Faultless data protection

Protected the personal and financial data of ticket holders

Elevated experience

Delivered a consistent gameday experience for players, staff, and fans

Repeatable playbook

Developed a repeatable security platform and playbook to secure future games and events

An attractive target for threat actors

Winning games in the NFL takes preparation and a great game plan, and winning teams are masters of in-game adjustments, recognizing threats from opponents, quickly reacting, and overcoming adversity.

That’s part of the reason Cisco and the NFL will join forces once again for the 2023–2024 season. Like a veteran defensive coordinator, Cisco has earned the NFL’s trust when it comes to cybersecurity. “If you think about it from a threat perspective, the Super Bowl could be a very big billboard for some attacker,” NFL Chief Information Security Officer Tomás Maldonado said. After all, if a hacker takes over the screen and announces a bomb threat hoax to a full stadium, chaos would ensue. Understandably, cybersecurity goes beyond protecting data and devices; it extends to the physical safety of every player, staff member, and fan.

Putting together the playbook

During Super Bowl LVII Cisco’s integrated, end-to-end cybersecurity identified, analyzed and triaged nearly nine thousand intrusion events, blocked more than 400,000 connections from blocklisted regions, and blocked almost 17,000 security intelligence events.

Working with Cisco to protect mission-critical gameday operations is the solution Maldonado was looking for. “I need more transparency and visibility into what kind of threats we’re seeing. I need to work with a partner that can understand the scale and the gravity of the situation and is able to complement and be adaptable and amenable for what we’re trying to implement. [Cisco] understands what we were trying to design and accomplish,” Maldonado said.

An all-star security lineup

“What we’re trying to do is slow down the bad actors, make it more difficult and challenging for them to try to attack the scoreboard or try to impact what’s happening on the field,” Maldonado said of the main goal of game day cybersecurity operations. “With Cisco by our side, we were confident that we can quickly anticipate any issues and deliver the seamless gameday experience that our players, staff, and fans have come to expect.”

The right tools and the right team are key in making sure things run smoothly, avoiding disruptions to the game, and safeguarding the data and devices that make mission-critical gameday operations possible.

“We try to reduce the footprint or vector of attack by making very specific design choices around how individuals will connect to our environment and who’s allowed to connect to our environment,” Maldonado said.

To protect their environment on Super Bowl Sunday, the NFL used a collection of integrated security solutions working in tandem:

  • Cisco Umbrella combines several security technologies into one, cloud-delivered solution, protecting users from internet-based risks on or off the network. Umbrella prevents phishing, malware, and ransomware and safeguards connections to cloud applications without sacrificing performance.
  • Cisco Secure Firewall helps organizations to obtain end-to-end visibility and simplified security management across distributed and hybrid networks. It provides superior threat detection and prevention for the modern network.
  • With Cisco Secure Malware Analytics, organizations can uncover exactly what a piece of malware is doing, how large of a risk it poses, and how to mitigate it. Secure Malware Analytics rapidly inspects files and suspicious behavior to help speed up incident investigations.
  • Cisco security technologies are fed timely, in-depth intelligence by Cisco Talos, the world’s largest commercial threat intelligence organization. Incident commanders from Talos Incident Response, as well as members of our Customer Experience team, were on site with the NFL for the whole game.
 

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