Red Carpet

Oscars Special - Data Security and the Cloud in Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful 8 won best original score (Congratulations to Ennio Morricone!) at this year’s Annual Academy Awards – one could say that it is late by one year. Why late? In fact, the project should have been realized and distributed earlier. But, in the beginning of 2014, the current version of the script has been leaked, whereupon the furious Tarantino decided to put a stop to the film project and turn it into a book publication. Fortunately, he changed his mind after a reading of the script in LA, so at the end of 2014 they started shooting the film. In December 2015, probably later than originally planned, the film premiered in movie theaters.

Data Security in Hollywood and Research and Development

Being negligent in the secure storage of data can cause a lot of damage on several levels, in Hollywood and in companies that do research. Data theft by cybercriminals does not only affect present company data, sensitive data of employees, customers and companies’ strategies that should not become public. Hollywood and researching and developing companies always work towards the future, as well. At every point in time, there is data for which it is important that it is published at an attentively planned point in the future, and by no means before that date. In the case of Hollywood, it is the latest, strongly anticipated movie project that is supported by costly marketing and PR strategies. In case of the company, it is the latest product that has been researched and developed carefully. It must be kept secret so that the company has an advantage in competition at the moment it is officially introduced.

What are the consequences of a data breach in Hollywood?

We must admit, in the case of The Hateful 8, the script has been leaked by an insider. It was not a hack or an act of cybercrime, strictly speaking. Still, the fact that this intellectual property became public at a point in time that was not intended, saw to it that the movie came out later than actually planned. It almost made sure that the project had been dropped completely.
The film industry has to work with great amounts of data and more and more filmmakers use the advantages that come with cloud storage. The question is how far they go to protect the data in the cloud. It is the intellectual property and work in progress of filmmakers, after all. Imagine the impact of a megaproject, such as the latest Star Wars, being leaked on the internet before its official release. The numbers of moviegoers would drop, fans would be faced with spoilers that ruin the movie experience. Most of us will remember that this happened before.

In 2014 the film company Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) fell victim to a hack with far-reaching consequences and even political implications. Five movies, including The Interview with Seth Rogan and James Franco, were stolen, together with – even worse – sensitive company data, such as salary lists, emails, and Social Security Numbers of stars and employees. While the FBI worked under the assumption that North Korea was behind the attack, many security specialists contradict. However, many criticized the low security standards. Emails have been sent which were not encrypted, passwords were stored on computers, and large amounts of data on the servers were unprotected.

Hollywood in the Cloud

Two years after this hacker-attack a lot has happened in the movie industry. Many filmmakers use new options to store work, and to collaborate on a project. There are Cloud providers who are specialized in filmmaking, for example Aframe or Scenios. Workflows are sped up and simplified, which safes both time and money. This is probably the reason for the interest of independent filmmakers in the Cloud. According to Dropbox 65 % of the filmmakers that were heading to Sundance Film Festival this year use Dropbox to work on their project.

This development makes it even more important to sensitize filmmakers and entrepreneurs for the security of their data, in the ideal case so that such a drastic data loss as in the Sony hack, will never happen again. Cybercrime is constantly increasing, ransomware is booming and is not only affecting private computers, but also hospitals and other institutions. Politicians in the US and EU are negotiating a new agreement for data storage, but this is mainly criticized by specialists for being too fragile. How large companies treat our personal information is often a mystery and only becomes clear once in a while, when there is a scandal or a current cyberattack going through the news. Possibilities to protect your data, such as encryption, should be employed to ensure the safety of your companies’ and employee’s data, and of course, your intellectual property.

To use the cloud should not mean to work with your head in the clouds. Data security should always be prioritized and negotiated down to earth, no matter if you are working at a small company, or in Hollywood’s dream factory.

Read more about the Sony hack and filmmaking in the cloud.

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