NFLPA Hires Cybersecurity Firm to Help Secure Social-Media Accounts

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2016

The NFL Logo is on the sideline at Heinz Field for an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene Puskar)
Gene Puskar/Associated Press

The National Football League Players Association and cyberdefense services firm K2 Intelligence announced a new partnership Thursday to help players and their families better handle the threats high-profile athletes face on social media. 

Matt Schneidman of the New York Post reported Friday that players and family members can receive in-person training to learn about how to maximize their cybersecurity. The report included a statement from Tim Christine, the NFLPA's security and operations director: "We are enthusiastic to make this state-of-the-art cybersecurity solution package available to NFLPA members and their families to stay secure and to help with problems as they occur."

The news comes after two major social-media breaches in recent months, which brought the issue to the forefront for both the NFL and its athletes.

Just this week, somebody hacked the league's official Twitter feed and posted an announcement stating commissioner Roger Goodell had died. Eric Prisbell of USA Today noted the NFL quickly worked to deny the false claims and has subsequently "engaged law enforcement" to investigate the situation.

Incoming rookie Laremy Tunsil had multiple social-media accounts hacked shortly before the draft back in late April. Chuck Schilken of the Los Angeles Times detailed the incident, which included a Twitter video of him smoking marijuana in a gas mask and an Instagram post about taking money at Ole Miss.

The Miami Dolphins ended up drafting Tunsil, at one point projected as a potential first overall pick, with the 13th selection. Jason Belzer of Forbes estimated the situation ended up costing the offensive lineman more than $7 million.

K2 Intelligence is going to teach players and their families about concepts such as developing more complex passwords, securing their Wi-Fi network and creating an authentication process to make it tougher to access their accounts, according to the New York Post.

In an era when so many players utilize social media to develop a connection with fans on a wide variety of platforms, this is a necessary step by the NFLPA. As the Tunsil situation showed, the potential risk increases as players become more famous targets in the NFL.

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