No Business Like Show Business: Hacking the Entertainment Industry

As the world continues its foray into the digital era, cyberattacks are not only happening more often, but they are also growing increasingly severe. While companies in every sector realize cybersecurity can no longer be ignored, one industry commonly overlooked in terms of digital security is the entertainment industry.

When you hear about data breaches, it isn’t usually the glitz and glam of Hollywood that immediately comes top of mind. But, like any industry operating in the digital age, the entertainment industry is indeed susceptible to cyberattacks.

In addition to consequences such as impaired reputations, decreased profitability and undermined business models, personal and financial information could be exposed, shows or movies could be leaked before a studio’s planned release date and enterprises could be shut down entirely. Clearly, there are far-reaching ramifications for a breach in the entertainment industry.

Numerous experts are under the impression that Hollywood is particularly susceptible to cyber threats due to the vast amount of people involved in the making of every movie or television show that is produced. In addition to the core production team, studios often employ numerous freelancers to do everything from generating special effects to scoring the show or film with music or completing any other tasks essential to the successful production of a movie or show on TV. While this may be the best way to produce a movie or TV show, it broadens an entertainment company’s attack surface as the sizable number of people tethered to a project creates a host of exploitable security vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, the entertainment industry is now known to be particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and hackers have set their sights on the industry in recent years.


In October 2014, hackers broke into the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment, pilfering a significant amount of confidential documents from the Hollywood studio and posting them online in the following weeks. With all of this information exposed, everyone from cybercriminals to journalists had access. Reports centered on the details of recent film productions and the extent of the employee data made available on the internet were published.

While multiple reports suggest U.S. government officials believe the attack was tied to the North Korean government (due to its disapproval of Sony’s "The Interview," an action-comedy centered on an assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un), linking the attack to a real-world actor can be difficult.


Unfortunately, attacks on the entertainment industry have continued to increase since that time. In April 2017, the first 10 of 13 season five episodes of “Orange Is The New Black” were leaked online by an anonymous hacker after the company allegedly failed to respond to the cybercriminal’s extortive demands.

According to the hacker known online as “thedarkoverlord,” the hacker or hackers responsible for the Netflix attack have also obtained unreleased shows from ABC, Fox, National Geographic and IFC. The breach was eventually discovered to be linked to a contractor working on the show.


In July 2017, news broke that HBO had experienced a major cyberattack. The hackers who executed the attack claimed to have acquired 1.5 terabytes of data from the network — allegedly including scripts and other content for the network’s marquee series, Game of Thrones.

Hackers dumped multiple episodes of unreleased HBO shows and scripts online, including scripts for the first four episodes of the most recent Game of Thrones season as well as the script of what, at the time, was the series’ yet-to-air fifth episode. U.S. officials ultimately charged an Iranian hacker for the breach, but he remains in Iran, and officials noted it would be difficult to actually detain him.

Cost of a Data Breach

The cost surrounding an entertainment industry breach is often extraordinary, and it can be incredibly difficult to regain one’s footing in the wake of a serious attack. In fact, according to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach study, each breached record cost the entertainment industry $145 per record, which is slightly less than the average across all industries. However, the report was not all sunshine and rainbows for entertainment. The study also revealed that companies in the entertainment industry have the highest time to identify at 287 days.

In the entertainment industry, network and software vulnerabilities are exploited by hackers to breach security. If entertainment companies don’t have a robust security infrastructure in place, it’s not a question of if but when their systems are breached. Today, the only way companies in the entertainment industry can totally foil attacks based on known vulnerabilities is by keeping their operating systems, software and third-party applications patched and up-to-date.

However, for many studios, companies and entertainment organizations, the long-established patch management process is a manual and laborious time suck. In order to mitigate possible hacks and secure vital data, entertainment industry organizations should consider cloud-native solutions that automate patch management.

Enhanced patch management offers satisfactory protection to the private and financial data of companies in the entertainment industry, and Automox helps thwart data and intellectual property breaches. In an era where cybercrime has emerged as a norm, automated cloud-native solutions appear as the optimal alternative to traditional security measures.

About Automox

Facing growing threats and a rapidly expanding attack surface, understaffed and alert-fatigued organizations need more efficient ways to eliminate their exposure to vulnerabilities. Automox is a modern cyber hygiene platform that closes the aperture of attack by more than 80% with just half the effort of traditional solutions.

Cloud-native and globally available, Automox enforces OS & third-party patch management, security configurations, and custom scripting across Windows, Mac, and Linux from a single intuitive console. IT and SecOps can quickly gain control and share visibility of on-prem, remote and virtual endpoints without the need to deploy costly infrastructure.

Experience modern, cloud-native patch management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you're currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in-class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.

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