Manchester United have refused to confirm or deny claims that they are being ‘held to ransom’ by cyber criminals following the recent attack on the club’s IT infrastructure.
The club revealed last Friday that they had been victim of a ‘sophisticated operation by organised cyber criminals’. It was confirmed at the time the affected systems had been shut down once the attack was identified in order protect data and contain the damage.
However, United stated that media channels were unaffected, nor had they identified a breach of personal data relating to fans and customers. Critical matchday systems were also unaffected, allowing the West Brom game to go ahead as planned at Old Trafford two days later.
The Daily Mail claims that the cyber criminals behind the attack are demanding ‘millions of pounds’ and still have United ‘in their grip’ a week after the first security breach. The size of the supposed ransom is not disclosed, but an EFL club was hit with a £5m demand within the last 12 months.
It is alleged that if United refuse to pay, they risk the ransomware attack leaking sensitive information about the club and players into the public domain.
But, a week on, there is thankfully still no evidence to suggest that personal data of fans has been compromised, which in itself could yield hefty government fines of £9m, £18m or 2% of annual worldwide turnover if personal data protection is breached.
According to a follow up report from BBC Sport, United have refused to say whether they have been subjected to ransom demands or not, but have ‘rejected’ the claim that the hackers still have control over their systems, which had been implied by the initial story.
A fresh statement from the club read: “Following the recent cyber attack on the club, our IT team and external experts secured our networks and have conducted forensic investigations.
"This attack was by nature disruptive, but we are not currently aware of any fan data being compromised. Critical systems required for matches to take place at Old Trafford remained secure and games have gone ahead as normal.
“The club will not be commenting on speculation regarding who may have been responsible for this attack or the motives behind it.”