Argentina’s nail-biting penalty shoot-out victory over France at the Lusail Stadium in December 2022 brought the curtain down on a phenomenally successful World Cup Qatar 2022. More than 1.5 million fans attended and five billion watched the showcase tournament in the Middle East.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy was established by the State of Qatar in 2011 to deliver this global sporting event, which included provisioning and operating the event’s eight stadiums, infrastructure, accommodation, and transport.
That focus extended to the tournament stadiums’ state-of-the-art cybersecurity infrastructure, spanning everything from over 80,000 endpoints and stadium Wi-Fi, to internet of things (IoT), industrial control systems, and more. Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s primary goal was to set a new standard in World Cup infrastructure – at every level. And it was a goal the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy embraced with enthusiasm.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy took the early decision to standardise on the comprehensive, unified Palo Alto Networks portfolio to underpin stadium cybersecurity at World Cup Qatar 2022. The portfolio spanned network, endpoint, and cloud security to drive simple, automated, and intelligent cybersecurity.
The global scale of the event made it a high priority target for ransomware, state-sponsored attacks, and threat actors looking to disrupt the games. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy needed a trusted advisor to help assess and test these security controls and ensure the stadium security strategy adopted a threat-informed approach to be ready for any attempt to disrupt the experience. Moreover, in the unlikely event of an incident occurring during the tournament, to have cybersecurity experts ready and available to respond to any threat, in record time, and contain the incident.
“As the host of the World Cup Qatar 2022, this was a unique opportunity for Qatar to showcase innovative, integrated security technologies across our stadiums, to deliver a safe, smart, and exciting tournament,” says Niyas Abudlrahiman, Executive Director – Tournament ICT, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. “Our overriding priority was to partner with experts and respond with confidence should anything happen. Ultimately, we wanted to proactively manage and be prepared for every type of cyber risk and minimize that risk at our stadiums before it could disrupt the customer experience.”
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy identified several key requirements for the Qatar World Cup 2022 stadium cybersecurity operations strategy:
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy partnered with Unit 42 to provide strategic analysis and guidance on its cybersecurity strategy and incident response plan. A team of Unit 42 threat researchers, incident responders, and security consultants worked collaboratively with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to assess and test security controls across three dimensions.
According to Kamran Shah, Manager, Information Security, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, “Threat intelligence is embedded throughout the Palo Alto Networks portfolio. The experienced team from Unit 42 worked as one to help design, build, and operate the World Cup Qatar 2022 stadium cybersecurity program. Palo Alto Networks experience, expertise, and technology played a vital role in the delivery of a robust and resilient security architecture and strategy across the stadiums to ensure a smooth delivery of tournament. Palo Alto Networks was one of the most important partners for World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Unit 42 consultants served as trusted advisors to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy both in the years building up to the World Cup Qatar 2022 and during the tournament.
Niyas Abudlrahiman comments, “Undoubtedly the greatest accolade we can pay to Unit 42 is the fact that World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums were robust and resilient to cybersecurity threats. The same is true of the preceding Arab Cup 2021, which Unit 42 also supported.”
“Unit 42 provided World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums with complete cybersecurity services,” says Niyas Abudlrahiman. “Their security consultants used their experience and expertise to focus assessments and prioritise recommendations based on attacks they see affecting organisations day in, day out. This continuous flow of real-time threat intelligence mitigated cyberthreats and helped deliver a highly successful tournament.”
To learn more about Unit 42 visit here. To stay up to date with the latest threat intelligence and research visit Unit42.com. Read how the full Palo Alto Networks portfolio enabled Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to safeguard World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums. Discover how the Cortex platform became the central nervous system of the stadium Security Operations Centre.