Tuesday, August 22, 2017 7:06 pm, Posted by Absolute Destruction
Unless you’ve been living under an especially remote rock, you’ll have heard about the latest season of Game of Thrones. Premiering on July 16, the first episode was watched by over 26 million viewers, with another 91 million people pirating a copy. Now several episodes in, the season hasn’t lost any steam, and it remains the hot topic around water coolers in offices around the world.
We’re no strangers to Throne talk here at the Absolute Destruction office, but we’re not just trying to sort out the many callbacks to previous seasons. What’s caught our eye is HBO’s latest security breach.
At the beginning of August, HBO was the target of hackers that stole roughly 1.5 terabytes of data from the TV network. The data included the personal information of the show’s stars, including their phone numbers and home addresses; the email correspondence of HBO’s VP of Film Programming, Leslie Cohen; several financial balance sheets; and two previously unreleased episodes.
So far, the hackers have only released approximately 3.4 gigs of the data they stole, but they threaten to leak the entirety of their bounty if HBO fails to pay an undisclosed ransom. If you recall our post on ransomware in May of 2016, you’ll remember that it’s never a good idea to bow to these demands. It suggests to other hackers that this kind of behaviour will be rewarded, and there’s no guarantee the hackers won’t just take their ransom and release the data anyways.
It’s unlikely HBO will cough up the entirety of the ransom; however, HBO is willing to negotiate — in a way. In an attempt to extend the ransom’s deadline, the TV network offered hackers a bug bounty payment of $250,000 in Bitcoin.
A bounty payment is something that most corporations budget for each year. It’s refers to payment given to those hackers that find the flaws in security on behalf of the corporation. It’s a useful strategy for company’s concerned with finding each hole in its security. And, according to many insiders, HBO is hoping to use it as a delay tactic.
Bitcoin isn’t a currency that’s easily gathered. HBO can use its lengthy acquisition process to find holes and track the hackers. Already there have been four arrests.
As it stands, HBO’s undergoing a strict forensic review to find out the details behind the hack. Jeff Cusson, a spokesperson for the TV network, says the review has yet to reveal any issues with its security or email system, so there’s no reason to believe the hack is part of a bigger problem. It should, however, lead the company to renew its security protocols.
As HBO struggles with its security issues in the limelight for all of the Internet to see, it poses a perfect reminder that your company — small or large — should take the appropriate security measures to protect its confidential information. While a leak affecting your offices may not have the same impact as HBO’s, yours will have significant consequences to your finances and your reputation.
In addition to updating your digital security policies and employee training, electronic data and document destruction is an important part of any commercial defence. Once you ensure your security policy is comprehensive enough to protect your clients and intellectual property, give us a call.
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Game of Thrones usually provides a nice escape from reality every Sunday night, but for once the HBO show reminds us of an important lesson. There are significant consequences to data breaches. We must take the appropriate steps in our security if we expect to avoid them. Beef up your digital security policies and call us when you’re ready to start shredding.