On course for a good hacking

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A story of how easily hackers could hit a hole-in-one with the computer network of a premier golf club in the UK.

Golf clubs and cybercrime couldn’t really sound further apart, but when it comes to cybersecurity, businesses of all sizes are targets and their owners must never assume anything is completely watertight. Golf is, however, more associated with business, so when I was recently asked to investigate and test the cybersecurity of an independent UK golf club, I thought it sounded like an interesting experiment.  

Furthermore, the owner of the club claimed that I would “struggle” to hack them, as they have someone who is “on top of our security”. Saying this just made me extra determined and more up for the challenge!  

I’ve not played golf in a few years, but back in my university days I spent a good handful of occasions hacking up the course with my 7-iron. However, more recently, I have turned my hand to a different kind of hacking, which is far more fun and much less ego-bruising. 

With 14 years’ worth of experience in the cybercrime and digital forensics unit in the police, I now review and analyze potential cyberthreats facing businesses. Being able to understand criminal hackers often helps with revealing insights into their mindset, which can then lead to better protection for organizations. 

At this point, I need to add a little disclaimer. Before I embarked on my escapade at this beautiful course in the stunning English countryside, I was granted full access and permission by the owner of the club to go wherever I wanted and to do whatever I desired – within reason, of course! 

As with any good heist, research is vital. Although I am familiar with the surroundings, lingo and attire of a quality golf club, I needed to learn everything I could about the staff and this specific club in question; and this is where Google is your best friend. Armed with my online findings and a couple of quality techniques in my back pocket, I was pretty confident I could have…