Something inconceivable has happened. HBO has suffered a cyber security attack, and 1.5 terabytes of data have been leaked. Two episodes and a script of Game of Thrones were reportedly released online.
Entertainment companies have suffered cyber security attacks before, most notably Sony, which saw a whopping 100 terabytes of data leaked. In a statement, the network stated that “data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold.”
In spite of the sheer volume of people involved in producing and editing the show, the showrunners have kept a tight lid on plot developments. Keeping viewers in the dark until each episode premieres is crucial to their enjoyment, so that they receive the full experience of each unexpected storyline.
HBO faces an inescapable problem: Their scripts and episodes have to be stored for a period of time before they are released, which dramatically increases the chances of being hacked, an unlikely issue if scripted dramas like Game of Thrones were filmed live. Of course, half the value of a Game of Thrones episode is the quality of production that would be impossible to create live. But the point remains that having a repository of material makes an organization more susceptible to leaks.
When data leaks occur in the realm of identity verification, they are far more threatening than those in the realm of entertainment. Take Aadhaar for example. Aadhaar is a unique 12-digit identification number assigned by the Indian government to each resident enrolled in the program, containing demographic (including name, birth date, address and mobile number) and biometric information. Last week, two graduates from the Indian Institute of Technology were charged with illegally accessing Aadhaar data by persuading customers to enter their information into an app.
Police sources expressed “fear that somebody figured out a way through the code to get easy access to the central depository of identities.” In the case of Aadhaar, although the central database of data was acclaimed to be secured, it remained vulnerable to determined hackers, subsequently exposing an unknown number of consumer identities.
Identity verification data is constantly under attack and will continue to be so. According to Experian’s Data Breach Industry Forecast, almost half of organizations surveyed had been subject to at least one security incident within the past year. Moreover, simple demographic data like social media activity and home address could be more valuable to hackers than one would expect. The forecast found that the going rate for a Twitter account credential on the black market is higher than that of a credit card number.
One way to ensure maximal security is to refrain from keeping a repository of data altogether, and acquire data on demand instead. Automated data collection allows you to obtain verified data in near-real time, from today up to 12 months of historical data, without any repositories. If storing consumer data is unavoidable, your data needs to be safeguarded with industry-leading security and authentication requirements and encryption.
Be sure that your data is secure. Whether you are using utility data for energy and sustainability management, or you are procuring critical consumer data for identity verification, your data needs to be secure, traceable, and verifiable.