After the big game last night, I was expecting a lull in the football news for the next few months.  I certainly was not expecting to be writing about the sport as a cybersecurity blogger.  Unfortunately, news of a data breach at the San Francisco 49ers’ has somewhat overshadowed the event

The team released a statement last night acknowledging a “network security incident” in its corporate IT network.  This coincided with the publication of the team’s financial documents by the ransomware threat group, BlackByte. Reports indicated this is part of a larger wave of attacks, following an alert from the FBI and Secret Service last Friday. Neither the 49ers’ or BlackByte have publicly disclosed the severity of the breach or the size of the ransomware demand.  The 49ers’ statement reports that they have no indicators of compromise outside their corporate network, so the infrastructure is related to stadium operation.  Fan and game attendees’ personal information is likewise probably unaffected.  The ransomware demand could be substantial.  NFL teams have sizable war chests, and the 49ers are reported to be the 6th most valuable team in the league.

The incident highlights that ransomware attacks will continue to be a leading security concern in 2022.  BlackByte is one of many Ransomware-as-a-Service providers that enable threat actors to contract them for the software and technical support while mounting an attack, with a split of the payout being arranged between the provider and the user.  These attacks will typically include double and triple extortion to ensure that the attack is profitable if the target refuses to pay the ransom.

Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, creative, and effective.  Protecting your organization requires up-to-date security policies and architecture.  To get a better understanding of how we got here, I’m preparing a short series on the history and types of ransomware attacks.  Keep an eye out and get in touch with us at to learn more.

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