Premier League side, Manchester United are reportedly being held to ransom ‘for millions of pounds’ by cyber hackers who hacked into the club’s IT systems.
The Red Devils confirmed in a statement that they were the victims of a “sophisticated operation by organised criminals”.
A club statement read: “Manchester United can confirm that the club has experienced a cyber attack on our systems.
“The club has taken swift action to contain the attack and is currently working with expert advisers to investigate the incident and minimise the ongoing IT disruption.
“Although this is a sophisticated operation by organised cyber criminals, the club has extensive protocols and procedures in place for such an event and had rehearsed for this eventuality.
“Our cyber defences identified the attack and shut down affected systems to contain the damage and protect data.
“Club media channels, including our website and app, are unaffected and we are not currently aware of any breach of personal data associated with our fans and customers.
“We are confident that all critical systems required for matches to take place at Old Trafford remain secure and operational and that tomorrow’s game against West Bromwich Albion will go ahead.”
A spokesman for United added: “These type of attacks are becoming more and more common and are something you have to rehearse for.”
The UK’s cyber security agency is assisting United, whose computer systems have been crippled, but the club insists it was not ‘aware of any breach of personal data associated with our fans and customers’.
As of Thursday night, club staff still did not have access to email, and some other functions were also unavailable.
A spokesperson said: ‘The NCSC is aware of an incident affecting Manchester United Football Club and we are working with the organisation and partners to understand impact.’
A leading cyber-security expert told the Daily Mail that United are likely being held to ransom for a significant sum of money.
The expert said: ‘The fact that this is still going on a week after the first attack proves it’s sophisticated, not some little virus that has got in ‘There are no good news stories coming out. It’s the embarrassment as well. They’re the biggest club in the world and someone has pulled their pants down.
‘If the virus is ransomware there will be a demand for money. I would put my house on it being in the millions, and 99 times out of 100 it’s Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) because that is the hardest to trace.
‘If they’ve encrypted United’s data — converting it to code or symbols to ensure it cannot be understood — they will say to the club: ‘If you don’t pay the ransom, we’re not going to lift the encryption.’