Technology & Cybersecurity: a World at Two Speeds

 In Cybersecurity, ICPT, Media, News, Sports and Leisure

Cybercrime not only affects Portugal’s businesses, costing companies millions each year; it has the potential to destroy lives as the guest speaker at a lunch-debate organised by the International Club of Portugal (ICPT) at the Lisbon Marriott Hotel on Thursday, Nuno Ferreira Pires, CEO of SportTV, warned.

Text: Chris Graeme; Photos: ICPT

According to a European study, 17% of Portuguese have practised cybercrime at some point or other in their lives, of which 34% are young people; intellectual property theft, piracy and hacking being among the most common.

And in a world in which in 2014 fixed and mobile traffic in Portugal was 1.5 million terabytes and by 2021 was already 21.5, all this technology and the content it brings is a bit like putting a Ferrari in the hands of a child without a driving licence and where the highway code is still rather incipient.

Although technology had brought “something extraordinary” to people’s lives in the way we communicate, carry out online transactions, and in the way Portuguese companies have formed synergies, thereby becoming more efficient, despite all these benefits “there are risks that cannot be ignored”.

Piracy widespread in Portuguese society

Nuno Ferreira Pires says that in a country of around 4 million households, the majority pay to watch Sport TV. Nevertheless, around 25% watch Sport TV without paying for it, which means in a room like the one in which we 40 lunchers were sat, statistically speaking 25% were likely “stealing” from the channel, or someone in their household (more likely one of their children) was doing so.

And the piracy of music, film and programme content from companies like Spotify, Netflix, or Sport TV – and let those who have never in their lives done this, cast the first stone — is very widespread in Portuguese society.

I personally remember when buying vinyl records in the 1980s, the inner dust sleeve carried the plea in bold letters ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’, but who honestly never accepted a BASF blank tape on which some friend had recorded the latest Madonna or Bowie album, or a video cassette with a bad back-of-the-cinema illegally recorded blockbuster movie like Top Gun or ET? Hands up! We all did it!

And Nuno Ferreira Pires also admits “we’ve all done it”, (at some time in our pasts, probably as teenagers).

“We’re talking about a country where technology is advancing now at a prodigious rate, where online content consumption is huge steps from offline, where legislation doesn’t exist, education at home in families again doesn’t exist, and European legislation processes on electronic regulation against cybercrime took two years to be approved, and takes two years to be transposed to Portuguese legislation.”

And when legislation did finally come into force, it was already completely out of date. Parallel to this, and on the subject of politics, — despite “being a liberal”, and after all “liberalism ends where the freedom of others begins” — and although in favour of freedom of expression, we think, for example, it’s normal to steal Netflix, Spotify or Sport TV content in a digital world and go unpunished, while at the same time considering that people should not be allowed to violate online traffic, be that to illegally watch football, hack into bank accounts or plan a terrorist attack.

This goes for all; the security of people’s houses, their families, their businesses, and the very security the country. It’s important because technology governs everything in our lives, particularly in Business-to-Business and measures against cybersecurity and data protection are indispensable. An attitude of “this doesn’t affect me” no longer stands.

“A plumber, who 20 years ago would have downplayed the importance of online security and technology because his work was manual and by word of mouth, today would be out of business without a single customer” — because business has moved to online mobile applications and websites, including the way he would actually get paid.

It is why the cybersecurity insurance market, which in 2020 was worth US$7Bn worldwide, will be worth US$21Bn, it is estimated, by 2027.

This has happened because companies are feeling highly insecure, yet many insurance companies are now not interested in providing cybersecurity insurance policies and are even taking them off the market because they know that cyber criminals target those businesses with insurance policies and demand ransom payments of €1 or €2 below the value of the premium. So, the company executives authorise the payment of the ransom because it’s the same as the insurance would have cost.

Since 2020, the world seemingly entered a new era of cyberattacks. Although there have been decades of viruses, malware and ransomeware breaches, and other forms of attack, recent years have seen increased bad actor sophistication, a propensity to pay in ransomware cases, and a broad swath of geopolitical uncertainty — conditions that hackers have found favourable.

“When we see friends of ours everyday systematically robbing content from industries and companies like ours, that pay taxes and provide jobs in Portugal, and think it’s funny, remember that this phenomena will spread to your sectors; sectors like tourism, in a country where the latest posted revenues in Portugal were €40Bn or 17% of national GDP.

“If Portugal ever has the bad luck to suffer a terrorist attack, which is perfectly possible, this 17% of our economy would collapse within three days, and all the satellite companies that revolve around tourism (25%) of GDP) would be wrecked as well,” warned Nuno Ferreira Pires, adding that Portugal would be sent back to the times of the ‘troika’, where investments would dry up, clients would disappear because “people who today steal football game transmissions from companies like Sport TV are financing criminal entities for drugs and arms trafficking, and one day your sons or daughters could get kidnapped at the very door of their schools.”

And if you think that’s not going to touch you, just remember the recent case of a gang of cyber criminals causing huge disruption to multiple London hospitals after threatening to publish sensitive patient data stolen from an NHS pathology testing provider if a ransom was not paid.

A 14-year-old in London awaiting an operation to have a tumour removed has now had the operation delayed, probably for months, because the cyber attack on the hospitals blood bank data base in the UK mixed up patient files, resulting in more than 3,000 hospital and GP appointments and operations being disrupted. Cybersecurity is not just about stealing football content, its about robbing people of their lives.

About the speaker

The career path of Nuno Ferreira Pires, CEO of SportTV, is remarkable for such a relatively young company executive, now 50. He has worked for Proctor & Gamble, Central de Cervejas, Millennium BCP, MTV Network Europe, Heineken, Oni Way Infocommunications, Banco Português de Gestão (BPG), and Pestana. (2013-2017). In 2008 he was elected by the Innovation Circle as one of the 100 Most Innovative Portuguese. He has been the CEO of Sport TV since 2016.

About Sport TV

Sport TV is a Portuguese sports-oriented premium cable and satellite television network with seven premium channels in Portugal, one sports news channel and one channel in Portuguese-speaking Africa.

The first channel, then only known as Sport TV, was launched on 16 September 1998. It is owned by Altice Portugal, NOS, Vodafone Portugal and Global Media Group (and originally had the participation of RTP). It is available from almost all television distribution operators in Portugal as a premium subscription channel. Sport TV broadcasts mainly association football, basketball, volleyball, futsal, rugby, surf, golf, athletics, wrestling, and American sports, combat sports, auto racing, and tennis. It also features debates, news, and sports reports.
All Premiere League matches are exclusively broadcast by Sport TV, with the exception of Benfica home matches, which are broadcast on the club’s channel, BTV.