Understanding the GoT leak & Tips to Safeguard Content

With huge popularity of TV shows like Game of Thrones, entertainment companies have a hard time securing data because a dozen of entities are involved in production and post-production

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In today’s fast-paced life, digital is the word that’s the sole solution to anything that requires some extra time and effort. This has created several opportunities for various stakeholders in the product and services marketplace to capitalize on.


The one string that holds all of them together is the last-mile customer. In recent wake of the dreadful content leaks from HBO, it is important to understand what went wrong and how can such acts be curtailed in future.

What happened?

In the latest development, an Indian post-production facility, Prime Focus Technologies (PFT), in a statement described the leak as an, “illegal breach of obligations by current and former employees.” Four people were arrested in connection with the leak that aired episode 4 of Season 7 of the immensely popular HBO series Game of Thrones.

The company has clarified that the leak was not a system hack, but an illegal breach of obligations by the concerned persons despite of PFT’s continual internal emphasis on protocols of content security and ethical practices. PFT is the technology arm of Prime Focus, one of the world’s largest post-production and VFX providers, which has in recent years become a powerhouse for serving post-production needs.

The Damage

The leak of episodes may not seriously financially damage most of these companies because its business model is based on bundling of its content. However, the damage from piracy depends on what is leaked, how much is leaked and even the quality of the leak.

In HBO’s case, it is owned by a publicly-traded parent company, so the release of sensitive information could be damaging to the bottom line, which could ultimately have an influence on its share price and the subsequent deals that would contain these HBO assets as a key component of them.

Past leaks

This is not the first time such hacks have occurred. In another major recent incident, Netflix was attacked by a hacker known as the Dark Overlord, who uploaded episodes from the new season of its popular series Orange Is the New Black after the company refused to pay the ransom.

However, the most devastating example of a Hollywood cyber breach remains the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that was blamed on North Korea. That attack came as Sony was about to release the comedy The Interview, about a fictional attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Why is Entertainment Content so Vulnerable?

With larger-than expected popularity of TV shows like Game of Thrones, entertainment companies have a hard time securing data because a dozen of entities, including special effects specialists and marketing firms, are involved in production and post-production. Studios rely on an army of freelancers for everything from special effects to musical scores, creating a vast network of targets for hackers. A way out can be bringing those work force talent in-house but it would be expensive and could limit the talent studios can tap going forward.

The effect that piracy has on public relations is also a concern for the companies. People may not be willing to subscribe to Netflix or HBO if they can watch their favourite shows and movies online for free.

How to protect your content

  • Devise a foolproof  breach strategy:  This should involve a process that is rigorously applied before any kind of security problem can arise
  •  Strengthening IT:  As long as hackers stay a step ahead of in-house IT departments and government regulators, internet piracy will rage on. The right cyber experts need to be hired and regular checks need to held, not just before airing of a series
  • Mindset: Most importantly, a cultural shift is needed to move the industry from a traditional reliance on subsequent litigation to proactive troubleshooting