September 20, 2023 By Stephen Hammer 2 min read

More than 15 million tennis fans around the world visited the US Open app and website this year, checking scores, poring over statistics and watching highlights from hundreds of matches over the two weeks of the tournament. To help develop this world-class digital experience, IBM Consulting worked closely with the USTA, developing powerful generative AI models that transform tennis data into insights and original content. Using IBM watsonx, a next-generation AI and data platform, the team built and managed the entire lifecycle of the AI models that produced key app features such as Match Insights and AI Commentary, which used large language models to generate spoken commentary for US Open match highlights. (Click here to learn more about how IBM used watsonx to build the AI models behind the US Open digital experience.) And a team of IBM cybersecurity experts ensured the entire digital operation was safe and secure, ensuring a seamless, uninterrupted experience for fans.

Preparing the surface network

During a typical tournament, the US Open digital platform can be on the receiving end of millions of security attacks. Because a single cybersecurity event can disrupt the digital experience, keeping data safe and networks operational is a top priority.

To do it, the IBM Security team begins work long before the tournament begins, using IBM Security Randori Recon to strengthen cyber defenses across the entire US Open digital network. Like checking for open windows or unlocked doors, this reconnaissance software seeks out any vulnerabilities that may be attractive to hackers, such as expired SSL certificates and outdated copyrights. Additionally, Randori Recon checks third-party vendors and tools used as part of the tournament’s digital experience, some of which can increase the attack surface area of the network and introduce new security risks for the tournament.

Once the tool finds areas at risk, the IBM team works to fix the issues, such as patching vulnerabilities. Because Randori Recon ranks the vulnerabilities, the team knows which issues are the highest priority and need attention first. The IBM team also works with the third parties as needed to make sure their issues are solved before the tournament.

Learn more: IBM at the US Open

Monitoring potential threats in real-time with QRadar

After the tournament begins, the activity picks up both in terms of cybersecurity incidents and monitoring. As with previous tournaments, the IBM team uses IBM Security QRadar for threat detection. The tool uses AI to determine a threat level, triage which incidents need human intervention and even help remediate some issues. For example, the team may decide to shut down a port or analysts may closely monitor a specific IP address based on QRadar recommendations.

To add more context, QRadar uses AI to cross-reference attack data against global threat intelligence databases, like the IBM X-Force Exchange. The tool can correlate seemingly harmless incidents with similar activity that together may constitute a more coordinated, global attack, prompting a much different response.

The future of the US Open

By setting up the workflow and infrastructure with Randori Recon and QRadar, IBM keeps the action focused where it needs to be — on the courts. As the USTA adds new digital features, such as AI Commentary, IBM ensures the necessary processes and technology are in place to protect the overall digital experience.

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