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John Harbaugh: Hacking a ‘big concern’ for teams amid NFL hiatus

The NFL is in unprecedented territory as teams attempt to conduct some semblance of typical operations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

One concern recently expressed by Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is over teams’ susceptibility to being hacked with coaches trying to remain in contact with players via solely virtual means with facilities closed indefinitely.

“It’s a big concern,” Harbaugh said during the Ravens’ pre-draft news conference, as shared by Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “Hopefully we’ll be OK. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings. That would be preferable, if we can stay away from that.”

Taking on a more humorous perspective of an arguably worrisome situation, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta jokingly downplayed Harbaugh’s concerns.

“I have more confidence in Zoom than I do in Ozzie [Newsome, executive vice president], John, Steve [Bisciotti, owner] and Dick [Cass, team president], with a copy of our draft board that they just leave in the car on their front seat or something like that,” DeCosta said.

Harbaugh has nevertheless reached out to members of the Ravens’ information technology department to highlight how security is of the utmost importance during the NFL’s hiatus. He is said to have been assured that the staff is doing everything possible to protect the team’s interests amid such a complex situation.

Concerns over online security as many people work remotely amid the COVID-19 outbreak of course have been a source of broader overall discussions well beyond the NFL.

One such issue stems from how Zoom, one of the more popular virtual meeting applications, has experienced issues ensuring security against hackers and other intrusions. It does merit noting that Zoom is in the process of instituting better protocols in an effort to protect against exploitation of security gaps by hackers.

That being said, NFL teams are rightfully worried about how private information, including the contents of playbooks and details relayed to players during virtual meetings, could be compromised and disseminated online. Harbaugh’s expressed concerns presumably are representative of how his head-coaching colleagues feel about the situation as well.