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F1 champions Red Bull battle constant threats of cyber attacks and data theft

26 Sep 2013
Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes

Triple championship-winning Formula One team Infiniti Red Bull Racing faces constant challenges from both internal and external threats as its technological developments provoke the interest of amateur hackers and rival teams.

Matt Cadieux is the CIO of Red Bul RacingIn response to questions from V3 on a visit to the Red Bull team's headquarters in Milton Keynes, CIO Matt Cadieux (pictured) explained that the intensely competitive and secretive nature of Formula One technology means he has to ensure his networks are in complete lockdown so no "bad apples" could ever walk away with technical data and give it to another team.

"The challenge is that the concept of ‘need to know' here is quite broad," he explained. "You need to have the information quickly but you then have to make it very difficult to move outside of the company. Part of it is a culture of education, part of it is employment contracts, and part of it is auditing what people do and looking for exceptions."

The danger of what Cadieux describes as the "incestuous" nature of Formula One personnel was demonstrated in 2007, when the championship-winning McLaren team was fined a record-breaking $100m after it made use of stolen documents provided to them by a former Ferrari employee.

Coming to a compromise that allows data to be readily available only to the right people has resulted in the rejection of personal smartphones on the network, as well as a complete snub of social enterprise tools.

Cadieux said: "Our laptops are very locked down, we don't allow portable media unless it's by exception and it's been audited. We use a tool which filters web traffic, we don't allow personal email, we don't allow file exchange sites."

He added that smartphones are not on the Infiniti Red Bull network either. "We're good at communicating and collaborating today without smartphones and tablets and social apps in the enterprise. We could take the next step up and use better, more friendly hardware tools, but we won't do that if it opens up big holes for our intellectual property."

Red Bull Racing are triple Formula 1 teams' champions

He explained that with the team's technical partnership with AT&T, they were looking to find a solution to at least implement some form of mobile device management (MDM), but were taking only very careful steps.

The team also endures external cyber attacks "all the time", admitted Cadieux. While he does not see them as coming from credible sources – describing the attackers as "amateurs who do it out of curiosity" – he said he believes his networks are ready for anything from state-sponsored espionage or attempts from rival teams.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing is currently leading the F1 Drivers' Championship with Sebastian Vettel and also looks set to secure the team's title for the fourth time in 2013.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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