The pinnacle of motorsports – Formula One racing, has gone a long way from the pure head-to-head motorsports battle of engineering and driving skills to something that we can describe as a combination of motorsports and data analytics race. While I’m not saying power unit research & aerodynamics advancement no longer important for a Formula One car, however, the fact is, a race can be won if the team gets the data analytics and strategy right even if they’re in a disadvantaged situation. With that being said, that makes Formula One the most technological advanced data-driven sports in the world.

In conjunction with the Acronis #CyberFit week and Formula One racing week, we have the opportunity to meet with ROKiT Williams Racing Chief Information Officer, Graeme Hackland and understand how the team manages and secure the pool of data they have collected over the weekend.

Ransomware Attack

Long before Williams adopted Acronis solutions, just like any other big corporations out there, the team has experienced digital and ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack has been around for a long time and definitely not something new that just pop out recently. Sadly, it takes that huge scale of attack such as WannaCry in order to raise public awareness in this matter.

Graeme has shared with us his experience of handling two different ransomware attacks on Williams racing a few years back. He recalled one of the occasions where one of their staff lost two weeks worth of work as the affected data was not backed up in a timely manner. Even though it did not affect the team’s progress, nonetheless, as a CIO, Graeme felt he could’ve done better to prevent it from happening.

Acronis x ROKiT Williams Racing

A single modern Formula One car contains more than 300 sensors from the tyre air pressure sensor to the power unit sensors. Even before the car leaves the pit lane, the engineer has already started logging all the data live-streamed from the car to the pit server. As such, data availability and data protection are critical for the team’s performance on the track.

Acronis and ROKiT Williams Racing formed a technological partnership in February 2018 to ensure complete growth and full compliance with security and data retention regulations. Acronis has supplied their solution suite to the team as-it without any special customisation in view that the team would help Acronis to perfect a solution that can be used in both mission-critical environments as well as everyday computing.

List of Acronis Solutions used by ROKiT Williams Racing team

  • Acronis Backup – Image-based data backup
  • Acronis Storage – Scalable and universal SDS
  • Acronis File Sync and Share – Enterprise file sync and share solution

Software & People

There’s a saying that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which in this case, the human who accesses and uses the system. So how does the team make sure even with Acronis as their security & technology partner, they wouldn’t have to worry about the rogue user or pure carelessness?

Apparently, the team has thought this one out with their people-centric operations where the staff are encouraged to report problems instead of sitting on it. Even day-one employees are being trained on data security as well as reporting any suspicious files and emails that could potentially compromise their network security. This greatly reduces any potential issues with phishing and risk handling.

If we were to talk about malicious or rogue employees, the team is working together with Dtex enterprise user intelligence where it would monitor the user behaviour and alert if there are any potential issues before things gone haywire. Henceforth, instead of a rigid structure of access rights that could possibly affect the employees’ efficiency, the given freedom allows faster changes and implementation of innovative ideas.

Final Words

As a whole, the highly secretive and demanding industry of modern Formula One racing puts a lot of emphasis on the data which could help them shape their future championships. Even companies with highly sophisticated hardware will not stand a chance when facing those cheeky attackers.

The partnership between Acronis and ROKiT Williams Racing further encourages future development of the Acronis solution suite. In other words, the direct feedback and ideas from the team would be reflected in future updates for more robust application features and benefiting us, the regular subscribers.


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