A month after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the NFL conducted the 2020 Draft. With various stay-at-home mandates in place, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, hosted the all-virtual event from its basement. Head coaches, general managers and league staff have used virtual tools to make their picks from their respective homes rather than huddled in a singular location as in the past. There were no watch parties or large in-person gatherings. Players and their family members watched eagerly from the safety of their homes as each name was announced.
Despite his physical distance, the 2020 NFL Draft was more connected than ever. And as the coronavirus pandemic has amplified and accelerated the reliance of people, leagues and organizations on technology, so has the potential for cyber threats to disrupt and wreak havoc.
To protect everyone, from the front office to the fans, before, during and after every NFL game, event and activation, especially during major events such as and NFL Draft – the league continues to work with and rely on trusted partners like Cisco for their network security solutions and expertise.
“Threats are constantly evolving,” said NFL Chief Information Security Officer Tomás Maldonado. “Any time there’s money associated with an event, there’s always going to be different types of threat actors and you have to fight that, not just around the integrity of the game and making sure that “the process is complete and not compromised, but also trying to make sure things around the data aren’t hacked. We spend a lot of time educating league clubs on network security best practices.”
With nearly every official NFL partner and two-thirds of league stadiums already using their networking technology, Cisco an Official Technology Partner of the NFL in April 2021. Much of Cisco’s first season as an Official Partner focused on the role of their network infrastructure in connecting each stadium’s replay control room of the NFL at Art McNally GameDay Central in New York. But for Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in February, security was paramount for the biggest sporting and television event in the United States. Using a combination of cloud and on-premises security technologies, up-to-the-minute threat intelligence, and some of the most experienced network security professionals in the industry, Cisco has helped the NFL build a network of solid, always available, protected Super Bowl company that was ready for the unexpected.
Together, the two organizations are working to develop a comprehensive strategy and playbook centered around the Cisco SecureX integrated security platform, which helps the league better understand, prioritize and protect against the latest threat vectors. attack to maximize security effectiveness.
The league has used technologies such as Cisco Umbrella, Cisco Secure Firewall and Cisco Secure Malware Analytics for marquee events such as Super Bowl LVI and the 2022 NFL Draft from April 28-30 in Las Vegas.
Although the Super Bowl attracts a larger audience than the NFL Draft – a 208 million people watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium – the event takes place at a single location in one day. By contrast, the draft spans three days and features a seemingly endless number of activations and events.
While every NFL flagship event presents its own set of security challenges and risks, the league and partners like Cisco have the right game plan in place to make the experience safe, seamless and enjoyable for players. fans present or at home.
“We like to think of what we do in the same way as ambient controls where you walk into a room and the light is dimmed in a certain way, the music is in the right pitch so you feel comfortable and there could be a good aroma in the air,” Maldonado said. “You’re relaxed and comfortable. If we can get security – both physical security and network security – to fall into that kind of pattern where she just happens and you interact with her without being fully aware of it, so I think we’ve done our job right. security issue, so we did our job.