Arizona Cyber Command prepares for ‘worst case scenario’ at Super Bowl

“We’re no longer an afterthought,” said Tim Roemer, the director of the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. “We are thought of as being one of the most critical components to this overall event.”
The state’s Cyber Command is constantly testing for vulnerabilities ahead of the Super Bowl in Glendale.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:11 PM MST
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GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - For a few hours in February, State Farm Stadium in Glendale will feel like the center of the universe. Two teams will battle it out on the gridiron to cement their place in Super Bowl history. Football fans will be watching. Unfortunately, bad guys may be, too. “These attackers are very creative,” said Tim Roemer, the Arizona Department of Homeland Security director. Roemer noted there are currently no credible cyber security threats to the Super Bowl specifically. Still, he said there is a team of people on high alert working to protect the big game, which is an attractive target.

“When it comes to high profile events, hackers think, ‘If I go after more high profile event, I’ll get paid,’” Roemer told On Your Side. “That’s why they go after them.” It’s also why the state’s Cyber Command is constantly testing for vulnerabilities. “We walk through a worst case scenario, how we would recover from it, how we would quickly react to make sure minimal impact,” Roemer added. “The Super Bowl is no different than our daily lifestyles. The worst thing that can happen is to go after critical infrastructure, so going after power, going after water. Things like that will always have the biggest effect.”

A hacker could still cause chaos without targeting that critical infrastructure. Here’s a possible scenario. It’s game day. Fans are here. They’ve spent thousands of dollars on this once-in-a-lifetime experience. What happens if the ticketing app is hit and no one can get into the game, or concessions go down and no one can buy food and drinks? What happens if the stadium lights go out or the scoreboard or TV broadcast is hacked? “We walk through all the scenarios. That’s helpful for our team and everybody involved. I can tell you cyber security has a seat at the table when it comes to the Super Bowl this time around, which is fantastic,” Roemer said. “We’re no longer an afterthought. We are thought of as being one of the most critical components to this overall event.”

According to Roemer, there is also education happening for third-party vendors who have contracts with the Super Bowl. Cyber security experts are regularly reminding people not to click on potentially malicious links and to avoid posting too much information on social media. If people post about jobs that are connected to the big game, hackers know to go after you with phishing emails that could open the door to a cyber attack.