It was a World Cup like never before. The first to be hosted in the Middle East, the first to be played in November, and the first to be held in such a small geographical area, World Cup Qatar 2022 offered a fresh twist on the festival of football. Legendary German footballer Jurgen Klinsmann described it as, “a World Cup organised to perfection”.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy was established by the State of Qatar in 2011 to deliver this global sporting event, including the provisioning and operation of the event’s eight stadiums, infrastructure, accommodation, and transport.
That commitment to excellence extended to the tournament’s state-of-the-art cybersecurity infrastructure. This included over 80,000 endpoints, spanning everything from PCs and stadium Wi-Fi, to internet of things (IoT), industrial control systems, cybersecurity operations, and more.
“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,” explained Niyas Abudlrahiman, Executive Director – Tournament ICT, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
With global attention on Qatar, the security team faced diverse threats across the 80,000+ endpoints, from ransomware and cyberespionage to fileless attacks and damaging data breaches. They needed multiple, connected sources of intelligence across a wide landscape. They also needed to streamline the vast number of frustrating, repetitive tasks they needed to perform as they triaged incidents and worked through an endless backlog of alerts.
Palo Alto Networks was one of the trusted partners chosen to deliver this ground-breaking cybersecurity solutions to support the stadium cybersecurity strategy.
“Palo Alto Networks is totally focused on information security,” said Kamran Shah, Manager, Information Security, Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy. “It has made forward-thinking business acquisitions, and its people are continually innovating. Palo Alto Networks has a 360-degree presence across our stadium security requirements and was one of the most important partners for protecting the World Cup Qatar 2022 stadiums.”
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy identified several key requirements for the endpoint protection and security operations strategy:
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy standardised on the comprehensive, unified Palo Alto Networks portfolio to underpin the stadium cybersecurity at World Cup Qatar 2022. The portfolio spans network, endpoint, and cloud security to drive simple, automated, and intelligent cybersecurity. Unit 42 also acted as a trusted advisor to test the security controls and drive a threat-informed approach to security.
With over 80,000 endpoints and devices under control, endpoint and operational security was the backbone of the deployment. Cortex XDR protected all endpoints and servers in the stadiums and beyond, applying machine learning (ML) to network, endpoint, and cloud data. Meanwhile, Cortex Data Lake collected and integrated the security data, continually learning to evolve the event’s defences.
“Cortex XDR provides excellent behaviour-based endpoint protection and detection,” explained Kamran Shah. “It doesn’t matter whether the source of the threat is a server, a mobile device, a security camera or stadium turnstile – Cortex XDR gives us complete visibility and analytics.”
Cortex XSOAR became a pivotal part of the Security Operations Centre (SOC) correlating events from more than 30 integrations and orchestrating response in the SOC. More than 70 playbooks were also created to standardise processes – ensuring scalable, consistent incident response. The SOC itself was largely configured and staffed by Palo Alto Networks, with multiple tech vendors reporting to the team.
From a single screen, three Resident Engineers and teams from Unit 42 and Cortex Threat Research monitored security on everything from the Operating systems controlling critical infrastructure of all eight stadiums, to ensuring the stadium Wi-Fi provides excellent service at peak crowd capacity.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy strategy, in collaboration with Palo Alto Networks, safeguarded data in the build-up to World Cup Qatar 2022, during the event, and afterwards. This ensured the world enjoyed an exciting, spectacular soccer competition.
The benefits included:
Read how the full Palo Alto Networks portfolio enabled Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to safeguard the World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament stadiums. Discover how Unit 42 partnered with Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy to deliver robust and resilient stadium security at World Cup Qatar 2022.