With the Panama Papers making lot of news at the moment, the question of data security has reared its head once again in F1. How safe is the data of the Formula 1 teams? It is now nearly 10 years since the 2007 espionage scandals involving McLaren and Renault, but has anything really changed in that time? Is data still passing around between the teams? And can the computers be hacked? The subject has come up in a novel about F1 which has recently been published and I was asked not long ago by Professional Motorsport World magazine to investigate data security in Formula 1 and to try to see what would be possible for the hackers of today. It was not an easy commission, because no-one wanted to talk on the record, except in the most general terms. However, what emerged was a fascinating insight into how F1 teams deal with the problem in their own different ways.
“In some cases, the teams today have very elaborate security systems in the factories,” one of the sport’s top computer experts told me. “Could the 2007 cases happen today? Have the lessons been learned? If you look at the Edward Snowden situation, even government intelligence agencies have issues with security, so how can an F1 team mitigate the problem?”
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