F1 'lucky' to have avoided a cyber-attack
Formula 1 has been "lucky" to avoid a serious ransomware attack, claims a leading computer expert who has become heavily involved in grand prix racing.
Ransomware is malicious software that cripples a computer before demanding payment to unblock the machine.
It is a booming industry, worth around $5billion a year to cybercriminals, and sophisticated groups are offering off-the-shelf programmes, in exchange for a cut of the profits, for anyone wanting to launch an attack.
The WannaCry attack, which crippled the NHS in the UK, and the Petya attack, one that targeted a host of European businesses, infected hundreds of thousands of computers this year.
Technology company Acronis teamed up with Toro Rosso last year and has helped make improvements in several areas including data back-up and safe file distribution.
Acronis president John Zanni believes F1 needs to be doing more to protect itself.
"It hasn't been happening much and teams like Toro Rosso are pretty secure - because they are serious about how they manage and secure their IT," he said.
"But F1 has been lucky up to now. I hope it will stay lucky and will become even more secure in the future.
"F1 is a massively popular sport.
"That is exactly what is usually a target - something that gets you a lot of press.
"It needs to be taken seriously."
Zanni says Toro Rosso "is using our technology more and more", highlighting its adoption of the Acronis Access Advance system for file sharing across the team's base in Faenza and their partners.
He said one of his primary concerns is that F1 does not view cyber-crime as a threat.
"F1 is a very insular community," Zanni said. "Everyone knows everyone here, so once you penetrate that community, you get accepted.
"Because it is very insular, they are not concerned about outside hackers and people coming in and doing disruptive things.
"There is a bit of concern about that.
"No one has thought of shutting down F1 for a weekend.
"But I suspect that somebody who is really, really smart could probably figure out how to do it.
"I've asked a few people in F1 about it and they have said, 'Why would anyone attack us? We just want to make sure our competitors don't see our data'.
"So, that is the only thing where I feel they are a bit behind."
Zanni fears that ransomware attacks will increase in frequency in the future, because the top-of-the-range software is a high quality and is becoming available to more people.
"Ransomware as a service exists, so if you want to run your own ransomware franchise business, you can," he said.
"I think that is going to become more and more prevalent.
"To me, it is scary how these people have thought to go to market with their viruses, and they are not just trying themselves to randomly get on as many computers as possible."