The entertainment industry is much like any other: susceptible to hackers and in the most part, underprepared.
“Security’s always seen as a cost. There’s no immediate benefit, right? It’s not something that’s ‘seen’,” Echemendia tells Techworld.
“They’ve got a production budget, that is already accounted for. That’s for the actors and the lighting and the director and so forth. So taking a chunk of that for something that could cost anywhere from $100,000 to half million dollars is hard for them to swallow.”
The past few years has seen major broadcasters suffer at the hands of hackers, resulting in leaked episodes and significant revenue being lost.
In August, US television network HBO had two episodes of its world-wide phenomenon Game of Thrones leaked, numerous hacker threats to release more and its social media compromised, all over a traumatising three week period.
“When you consider a movie like Twilight, that had a 350 million dollar budget, but there is no IT,” says Echemendia. “There’s no IT department. There’s no IT people, much less security people.
“So for the most part, they still operate as if it were film. And it’s not. It’s literally all digital now. It’s kind of crazy.”
The decision-makers for any big blockbuster will have to take out insurance. In fact, there’s lots of different kinds of insurance they will need including completion insurance, liability insurance and equipment insurance.
For Echemendia the lack of cybersecurity insurance is shocking.
“It’s mind boggling that they’re spending 300 million dollars on a movie and yet none of those insurances cover a cyber breach.
“They don’t even understand at all that that’s an issue.”
If you take a snapshot of any industry from 10 years ago, you’ll see huge changes arise as emerging technologies take off or cultures evolve.
Take mobile for example. Before smartphones, there were no app developers, social media managers or mobile analysts.
For security and the film industry this is just a matter of time, according to Echemendia.
“If you look back seven years ago, there are two positions that you now see scrolling up at the end of a film that didn’t exist before,” explains Echemendia.
“A data wrangler and a deep digital imaging technologist. They didn’t exist before because there was no data to wrangle and there wasn’t any image to play with that way.
“I believe that there’s going to be, although using different terminology, security wranglers.
“There needs to be someone who is part of the production team whose responsibility is going to be to reduce the risk of a film, even pieces or parts of a film getting out prior to their box office release.”
The area of most concern for Echemendia is the pre-Box Office content.
“For Hollywood, all of its focus is in the first two to three weekends of the box office release,” he explains. “That’s what deems how successful a film is. So, it’s critical to control those assets before then.”
However, since the Sony hack in 2014 and the more recent HBO hacks, a small shift is beginning to take place.
“When I first moved to Hollywood I did a thing called Hacking Hollywood’s Hard Drive and I showed how easy it was to basically hack in a system, and gain access to all kinds of stuff.
“But since then some major things have happened in Hollywood including the Sony breach which has made them have to open their eyes and see the cost of probably hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Educating both consumers and businesses is vital in making sure security is put on the map within firms in the entertainment industry and in all other sectors.
“I like to use the analogy of the microwave. We don’t really have to understand how a microwave works because we just throw food in there and it’ll make it warm. But you’re basically carrying a supercomputer in your pocket.
“The main issue is that people [in the entertainment industry], are for the most part people who are the creatives. The last thing they’re thinking about is these security issues.”
Echemendia has a plan to get people interested in cyber security.
“I think the problem with cybersecurity, especially for consumers, is that there is nothing that uses human terminology. It is all very technical jargon.
“Gamification is definitely a way to do it that it’s digestible. I think that’s where the opportunities with gamifying and using the user experience that we see in gaming with real data that is relevant to us.”
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if the entertainment sector picks up on the growing need for cybersecurity protection.
What we do know is that no sector is safe, especially one as lucrative as the film and television industry.