Emergency Preparedness, Safety, Security

‘Practice Like You Play’: Officials Conduct Cyberattack Exercise for Super Bowl LVIII

It’s never too early to think about public safety. Football season might’ve just begun, but federal authorities and other officials are already tackling emergency preparedness for Super Bowl LVIII.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the National Football League (NFL), Allegiant Stadium, and Super Bowl LVIII partners recently held a new tabletop exercise in Las Vegas. The gathering aimed to explore, assess, and enhance cybersecurity response capabilities, plans, and procedures ahead of the championship game.

The Super Bowl LVIII Cybersecurity Tabletop Exercise is the latest in a series of assessments and exercises designed to ensure the safety of events at Allegiant Stadium, which will host the big game in February.

This exercise brought together more than 100 partners from the NFL, stadium, and federal, state, and local governments to review and discuss plans and procedures for protecting against, responding to, and recovering from a significant cyberattack during the country’s most-watched sporting event. The four-hour exercise also provided an opportunity for participants to identify the available resources, capabilities, and best practices of their governmental partners and strengthen their resilience.

“Exercises like this are a great mechanism for examining our plans and procedures when responding to significant cyber incidents, like those depicted in the scenario,” said CISA Deputy Executive Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Steve Harris, who gave opening remarks at the exercise. “This was a safe, low-stress setting to identify any gaps in those plans and ensure we all have a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities. In short, this exercise will help ensure we’re ready for any challenges that come our way on game day.”

During the exercise, participants discussed a hypothetical scenario that included phishing, ransomware, a data breach, and a potential insider threat—all with cascading impacts on physical systems. The exercise was part of an ongoing partnership between those involved and was not in response to any specific threat.

“At the NFL, we understand how important it is to practice like you play, and this week’s exercise is the first of many simulations we will conduct prior to Super Bowl LVIII,” said NFL Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer Cathy Lanier. “We are grateful for CISA and our federal, state, and local partners who are working together to ensure the Super Bowl and its events are as safe as possible for fans, players, and personnel.”

This is CISA’s 10th consecutive year partnering with the NFL and Super Bowl partners on what has become an annual tabletop exercise. CISA works with sports leagues, teams, stadiums and arenas, and other large venues around the country to develop and exercise response plans for all potential threats in today’s environment. 

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