Monday 24 March 2014

Security Awareness Lesson on Loose Lips by Football Stars

Last week I was left rather concerned about the state of security awareness in the UK, after hearing various people in my train carriage rattle on loudly about information which was clearly meant to be kept confidential, a World War II awareness phrase comes to mind, Loose Lips sink Ships.  However my faith in personal security awareness has been somewhat been restored, as over the weekend I noticed many football superstars demonstrating a very simple security control, a control which I believe has been coached to them by their clubs, in other words information security awareness training. This simple tactic is to cover your month when speaking, a technique used to mitigate the risk of media, and perhaps opposition teams, from being able to eavesdrop what you are saying, namely by them using lip reading experts to interpret what is being said by watching TV or camera footage.

This practice was very evident in last night’s El Clasico, Real Madrid versus Barcelona, a match which fully lived up to the billing as the biggest club football match in the world. And what a match it was, some of the world’s best footballing talent on the pitch, playing amazing football, in a topsy-turvy match which was packed with controversy with three penalties, which saw Barca eventually run out 4-3 winners. Aside from the quality football, what I found particularly interesting, was an on the pitch conversation between Barca's Messi and Madrid's Pepe that was caught by the TV cameras, both demonstrated good security awareness by covering their mouth as they spoke to each other in conversation, see the pictures below.

 Messi & Pepe keeping their conversation private

On Saturday night I saw the same practice while watching Match of the Day. Wayne Rooney scored a goal from just inside the opponents half, mimicking David Beckham’s spectacular goal from his own half all those years ago. 

David Beckham and his family were actually in attendance, and sure enough a TV close up of David Beckham and his son Brooklyn followed Wayne Rooney’s goal celebration. Both David and young Brooklyn had their mouths covered with their hands while discussing Rooney’s goal. No doubt David was telling his son that his goal was better than Rooney’s goal. But the fact his son had his mouth covered with his hand suggests some sort of awareness training has occurred in my view, even if it was delivered by his security aware dad.
The Beckhams are Security Aware

My American friends will point out in US sports like American football, coaches on the sidelines have been hiding their mouth when barking out team instructions with a clipboard for years, but my point is this practice is relatively new to the UK sports, and I have observed it with English cricketers at the recent Ashes series, and with our Curling players at the recent Winter Olympics. But it is in football where it has become most prominent, you can spot the likes of Jose Mourinho using the mouth covering method all the time, especially after his private conversation about Samuel Eto'o and Fernando Torres was leaked to the media.

This makes me wonder what other security awareness training and practises have football clubs adopted in this technical age. These days at many Premier League clubs, players are handed iPads holding information about their gameplay and their opposition gameplay, especially so when used at half time. This information can be the difference between winning and losing a match, given the small margins involved in football,  and the vast amounts of money which can be gained or lost by success and failure, it means such information needs to be protected. The Manchester City reaction to their scouting database compromise is example of the importance of information security within the billion pound UK football industry.

Then there is social media awareness, a footballer’s comments on Twitter can land a football club in hot water with the FA and sponsors, resulting in fines and match bans for the player involved, for example Ashley Cole's £90,000 fine for a Twitter post or Jason Puncheon's recent fine for remarks on Twitter about a manager. So I think information security and the important awareness training that goes with it, is now being taken far more seriously by professional football clubs than it use to be a couple of years ago, the ultimate driver for this change is money.


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Marcus Habert said...

Dave, as a fellow security blogger, I am jealous of this post. You have found a way to combine soccer and security...seriously, bravo. If you had included my Arsenal in this somehow, I would have given you an award...of some type which I would have to create myself. ;-)

SecurityExpert said...

I must admit InfoSec & Football are the perfect storm for me.

I'm not really into awards, but comments are always appreciated, so thank you for taking the time.

Important win for the gooners last night, I think a top 4 finish is now safe. Odds on favourites to win the FA Cup, played some quality football, it could have been a worst season, esp. given the injuries.

Unknown said...

Ya, I'll take any silverware after the injures the gunners have suffered this season. We'll raise that FA Cup come Saturday.
And we got that Top 4 finish, so it's Champions League again next year.

If anything football and security related strikes me, content wise, I'm going to send it your way. My editor would hate it. ;-)

Marty M. Robertson said...

great match

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