The Super Bowl presents a ton of opportunities for cyber criminals to exploitboth through the targetrich environment surrounding the event itself as well as social engineering attacks that take advantage of the hype.  Although COVID-19 restrictions limited this year’s event attendance to only 22,000 fans (and 30,000 cardboard cutouts of fans) compared to the 62,000 people that filled the stadium last yearit remained important to secure the infrastructure, media properties, credit card information, and other sensitive data of attendees and vendors.   

As the official cybersecurity partner for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Super Bowl LV Host Committee, ReliaQuest worked hard to secure the event’s attendees, staff, players, network, and associated media properties.  In addition to securing the Super Bowl itself, we were also closely monitoring for social engineering attacks and expected to see an increase in overall security events on and leading up to the day.  To test our hypothesis, we ran some numbers and compared security events across our customer base in 2020 and 2021.  The results? 

Super Bowl 2020 vs 2021

With a 20.2% total increase in events from 2020’s Super Bowl to this years, the data appears to confirm our hypothesis.  Let’s take a closer look at what types of events we expect contributed to this: 


As is the case with many high-profile events, fans attempting to watch the gamewhether in-person or virtually—had to be wary of scams. As Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren stated, “The biggest scam around the Super Bowl is of course tickets to the game.” 

Threat actors took advantage of this and posted listings on Craigslist selling tickets at absurdly low prices, around $800 – $2000, even though the average price of a Super Bowl LV ticket was $14,000. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Vice President of Ticket Sales Deno Anag tweeted, “I don’t know who needs to read this right now but don’t purchase #SBLV tickets off of Craigslist. If it sounds too good to be true most likely it is.”  


Those attempting to stream the game online weren’t off the hook either.  These fans had to be careful of the danger of streaming from unofficial sources, increasing the risk of downloading malware, data theft, and even financial scams associated with sports betting when visiting malicious websites.  


Threat actors often take advantage of popular events like the Super Bowl by leveraging social engineering attacks, often in the form of phishing campaigns. Examples of this include phishing websites that impersonate the NFL or their sponsors in attempts to steal credentials or personal information.   

Phishing has been a growing threat since the world went virtual at the beginning of the pandemic, and the Super Bowl was no exception. In fact, ReliaQuest saw more than a 30% increase in phishing email attempts from 2020 to 2021 across our customer base leading up to and on the day of the Super Bowl. Even more alarming was the 100% increase in alerts for ransomware events during the same time frame in 2021 compared to 2020.  Although these percentages are high, they are also a testament to our customers’ ability to detect phishing and malware events across their security stack, which may otherwise go undetected. 

With 600+ threat detection rules mapped across technologies and the kill chain, ReliaQuest customers see a 400% improvement in threat detection capabilities in the first 90 days. Get in touch with us to learn more.