Home & Not Alone, Cy­ber­at­tacks Show Me­dia Cos can’t Sit Con­tent

In­dian me­dia firms too are highly prone to cy­ber­at­tacks where pre­cious con­tent is the tar­get

The Economic Times - - Brands: Creating Desire - Gau­rav.Laghate @times­group.com

Mum­bai: HBO, the US ca­ble chan­nel and a unit of Time Warner, ac­cepted last week that the com­pany has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of a cy­ber­at­tack, which has re­sulted in theft of pro­pri­etary in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing some up­com­ing pro­grammes.

The in­ci­dent is sim­i­lar to the Sony Pic­tures hack in De­cem­ber 2014, which was one of the big­gest at­tacks on an en­ter­tain­ment com­pany un­til then. Al­most 200 gi­ga­bytes (GB) of data was stolen, in­clud­ing and not lim­ited to per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about em­ploy­ees and their fam­i­lies, emails, ex­ec­u­tives’ salaries, and copies of then-un­re­leased Sony films. The HBO hack­ers have claimed that they have ac­cess to 1.5 ter­abytes of data, which is roughly 7 times that of Sony.

But it is not just in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies that are be­ing tar­geted. Closer home, an un­re­leased episode of HBO’s most pre­mium prop­erty, Game of Thrones, was leaked on­line — with a Star In­dia wa­ter­mark ear­lier this month. Many Bol­ly­wood (and other lan­guage) movies keep get­ting leaked on­line on the day of re­lease and, in some cases, even be­fore that. “For a me­dia com­pany, any cy­ber­at­tack can go to the core of our busi­ness — the pre­cious

Me­dia Cos Un­der At­tack

me­dia con­tent. And that can be dis­as­trous, to say the least. We have seen re­cent hacks where orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming has been stolen, and for any me­dia com­pany that is some­thing ab­so­lutely non-ne­go­tiable. With all dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ments to­day, it is all the more im­por­tant to pro­tect your busi­nesses. At­tacks like these are di­rect strikes at the core of me­dia busi­nesses,” said Ra­jneesh Mit­tal, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer, Zee En­ter­tain­ment En­ter­prises.

Amit Jaju, part­ner and head of foren­sic tech­nol­ogy and dis­cov­ery ser­vices at EY, feels there is low re­spect for in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty in In­dia. “Ev­ery­one knows that down­load­ing tor­rents or from other web­sites is il­le­gal, but there is low com­pli­ance with laws” Jaju told ET.

Also, so­phis­ti­cated cy­ber­at­tacks like Ran­somware are demon­strat­ing the need for en­hanced in­ter­nal se­cu­rity pro­to­cols and con­trols within or­gan­i­sa­tions to min­imise the threat pro­file from such tar­geted at­tacks. Con­stant vig­i­lance and ad­e­quate pre­pared­ness are the need of the hour. And while many of the com­pa­nies are fo­cus­ing on mon­i­tor­ing, the big­ger ques­tion is, how safe are these com­pa­nies against cy­ber threats.

As Sony Pic­tures Net­works In­dia (SPN) puts it, “Con­tent and con­tent man­age­ment are the IP for any me­dia or­gan­i­sa­tion, and in to­day’s dig­i­tal era, pro­tect­ing one’s IP is of ut­most pri­or­ity.”

In a writ­ten re­ply, the com­pany, whose par­ent firm faced the worst cy­ber­at­tack, said that it has var­i­ous poli­cies and se­curi- ty tools in place that en­sure that its sys­tems are well guarded and pro­tected from such threats.

“Within SPN, our de­fined se­cu­rity poli­cies and the real-time vul­ner­a­bil­ity man­age­ment sys­tems take care of iden­ti­fy­ing any vul­ner­a­bil­ity within sys­tems dili­gently so that the ap­pro­pri­ate patches and other ac­tions can be im­ple­mented. On the pe­riph­eral se­cu­rity sys­tems, SPN has de­ployed state of the art fire­wall/in­tru­sion man­age­ment sys­tem to pro­tect any unau­tho­rised en­try. There are other tools de­ployed with the Se­cu­rity Oper­at­ing Cen­ter (SOC) ser­vices to nul­lify at­tempts to hack into our sys­tems,” SPN said.

Jaju said ethics and pro­fes­sion­al­ism at the lower ranks is a con­cern. “This seems to be more of a peo­ple prob­lem rather than a tech­nol­ogy prob­lem. In a lot of leaks, cy­ber threats ex­ploit in­sid­ers. They give in be­cause of greed, or do not fol­low the process, or are tar­geted for their ac­cess,” he said. “In ma­jor­ity of cases... em­ploy­ees were the weak link.”

Baskar Subramanian, co-founder at me­dia-tech com­pany Amagi Me­dia Labs, added that tech­nol­ogy is not a prob­lem. “The weak­est link or vul­ner­a­bil­ity in the en­tire chain are the em­ploy­ees or in­ter­nal teams.”

Mails sent to Star In­dia and Vi­a­com18 did not elicit any re­sponse till press time.

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