You may have already read that the Williams FW43B Formula 1 car leaked on Friday, which prefaced my chance to crown Williams the winner of this year’s F1 season as far as looks are concerned. You might not, however, have noted that the breach happened even as one of Williams’ sponsors happens to be none other than Acronis, a cybersecurity firm .
Williams released a statement following the hack in which it detailed that the FW43B reveal was to have come from a virtual reality app. That app has since been pulled from app stores. From Williams:
Williams Racing planned to reveal its 2021 challenger, the FW43B, via an augmented reality app later today (5th March). However, sadly, because the app was hacked prior to launch, this will no longer be possible. We have subsequently removed the app from both the Apple App Store and Android Google Play store.
The hack seems to amount to users extracting the renders from the VR app, whose cybersecurity was, shall we say, lacking. The app gave users early and unrestricted access to the renders of the FW43B and its new livery, even down to CAD models of the machine!
The timing here is unfortunate, as Williams’ announcement of an extension to the Acronis sponsorship talked up the successes of the partnership in gushing terms.
That announcement from Williams quoted Serguei Beloussov, the CEO of Acronis, who stressed the importance of keeping Williams’ data safe:
“We are proud to support one of the most iconic Formula One teams on the grid. With our technology, we’re ensuring the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) of Williams Racing’s workloads, data, applications, and systems. By using this design methodology, we can deliver the highest calibre of cyber protection, keeping the team’s data tamper-free and easily accessible for smooth day-to-day operations. We are committed to working with Williams Racing as they protect their edge with Acronis.”
I can’t help but chuckle at the irony of the situation. It’s definitely a Curb Your Enthusiasm musical cue moment. It’s as if Pirelli stopped shipping P Zero Formula 1 tires to the racetrack and instead had sent a truckload of P Zero summer tires and then shrugged its shoulders.
UPDATE [Monday, March 8, 2021, 09:02 A.M. ET]:
A spokesperson for cybersecurity company, Acronis, provided the following statement in reference to the security breach:
The compromise of the AR app, which prevented Williams using it to launch the FW43B livery, was completely outside of Williams Racing’s in-house systems and networks which are protected by Acronis.
The spokesperson further elaborated that none of Williams’ systems were affected in the breach.