Although certain industries are known targets for cyber attacks – healthcare, financial, government – cyber attacks pose a threat to all sectors. Organizations in the entertainment industry have increasingly become targets of cybercrime. Over the past several years, a number of large entertainment companies have fallen victim to cybercriminals, resulting in the threatened and actual leaking of sensitive information including such things as internal emails, passwords, compensation information, and unreleased programming. Unlike a “traditional” cyber attack which poses a threat to credit card numbers or social security numbers, the biggest risk of an entertainment industry cyber attack is the publicity that can result from compromising communication and other information about high-profile individuals, and their associated businesses. For example, in the weeks leading up to the Game of Thrones final episode, HBO was hit with hacks, leaked episodes, and ransomware attacks, all stemming from a breach of online security. Such can cause harm to the financial success and reputation of both the show and the network. In addition, a company’s failure to adequately safeguard the confidential information of individuals or affiliated parties may result in costly legal review, security remediation, forensic investigation, and litigation, all which can negatively impact public relations.

As cybercriminals become more sophisticated with their attacks, and with the increasing awareness that the entertainment industry has become a prime target for hacking, it is important for companies in the industry to be proactive in making sure proper safeguards are in place before an attack occurs. Entertainment companies should ensure that they have qualified personnel with adequate resources who are capable of implementing necessary preemptive security measures. In addition, employees at all levels should receive training on what to do (and what not to do) to minimize the risk of a security breach. And companies should be prepared to respond quickly and effectively in the event that cybercriminals manage to circumvent preventive security measures.

Cyber attacks spiked 6,000 % in 2016, and show no sign of slowing in 2017. Several months ago we reported on the increase of ransomware attacks in higher education, another “less known” target for cybercrime. No industry is immune to cyber attacks, and any organization that holds sensitive information, must take steps to plan for and respond to such attacks appropriately in the unfortunate event that they occur.