San Francisco 49ers Cybersecurity Incident Affected 20,000BlackByte Ransomware-as-a-Service Group Claimed 49ers as Victims in February
The San Francisco 49ers will notify more than 20,000 Americans that online attackers likely stole their name and Social Security number in a February network security incident. The girdiron team is among the world's most valuable sports franchises with a net worth estimated by Forbes to be $3.8 billion.
The National Football League member says unauthorized access to its corporate network occurred between Feb. 6 and 11. Ransomware as-a-service group BlackByte took credit for the attack at the time, adding the team to its leak site list of victims (see: BlackByte Ransomware Hits San Francisco 49ers' IT Systems).
Letters being sent to 20,930 individuals reveal few details about the incident, other than that the team engaged an outside cybersecurity firm. The company says it is taking steps to ensure future incidents that include "measures to further enhance our security protocols and continued education and training to our employees."
A 49ers spokesman tells Information Security Media Group the company regrets the incident. "We take seriously our responsibility to safeguard personal and sensitive information entrusted to us and are committed to working with cybersecurity experts to ensure we are protected from any future similar incidents," says Jacob Fill. He did not respond when asked to confirm the incident involved ransomware. The 49ers are offering affected individuals a year's worth of credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.
The probable February ransomware attack came just days after the FBI warned corporations to be on the lookout for BlackByte. Operators using the ransomware struck victims in the critical infrastructure sectors of government facilities, the financial industry and food and agriculture, the agency said in an advisory co-authored with the Secret Service.
Cisco Talos Intelligence Group considers BlackByte to be a "big game ransomware group" whose malware is used to go after moneyed, high-profile targets.
There's little doubt that the 49ers have cash. The team just retained Jimmy Garoppolo as a backup quarterback for a one-year deal worth at least $6.5 million and up to $16 million, making Garoppolo one of the most expensive back up QBs in the NFL.