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‘Orange is the New Black’ Leak Teaches A Valuable Lesson About File Security

Netflix’s worldwide popularity has helped drive down video piracy. Its vast library of movies and TV shows has helped make it the most subscribed-to streaming service on the web. Streaming services use proprietary digital rights management (DRM) technology that prevents unauthorized parties from copying or tapping into those streams.

Such DRM offers little protection against outright theft of video or audio files if a hacker is able to penetrate the corporate security perimeter and gain access to the filestore. It’s not designed for that. That fact was made clear last weekend, when the entire fifth season of Netflix’s prison drama Orange is the New Black was dumped onto the torrent site, The Pirate Bay.

A hacker operating under the handle of ‘thedarkoverlord’ claimed responsibility for the leak, reportedly by infiltrating a post-production company used by several major movie studios. Once the hackers broke into that company’s servers, they downloaded an unknown quantity of movies and shows, and demanded a ransom. Netflix DRM couldn’t stop the theft because the files weren’t streamed – they were stolen directly off the server.

Netflix refused to pay the ransom, and now here we are. Orange is the New Black isn’t the only show that’s been purloined – ‘thedarkoverlord’ also claims to hold shows from ABC, National Geographic, Fox, and IFC.

I talked to BlackBerry writer and podcaster, Jason Middleton, more in-depth about this. Listen to our interview or read on.

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This whole incident speaks to something I’ve long maintained. It doesn’t matter how much you strengthen security within your own organization if you lose control of critical files the moment they’re in the hands of a business partner or vendor. After all, there’s no way to guarantee a partner will treat your data with as much care as you do.

And the more external agencies and individuals your business works with, the higher the chances that one of them will be vulnerable to a breach. That’s exactly the reason Hollywood widely uses BlackBerry Workspaces to encrypt and protect screenplays (to prevent plot leaks and spoilers) and other intellectual property. And it’s why companies like Netflix should, too.

Workspaces enables businesses to stay in control of their files no matter where the files travel, and no matter who downloads them. Had the media files stolen from that production company been protected by Workspaces, the hacker’s threats would have been empty. Workspaces file-level encryption and access controls would have prevented them from being opened and viewed even after they were downloaded. There’s no value in an unhackable, encrypted data blob – a fact that could deter crimes like this in the first place.

Digital media providers like Netflix offer incredible convenience to their customers. Unfortunately, without proper file security, they also make things very convenient for hackers. To protect themselves against future hacks and leaks, they need to apply DRM to more than just their streaming media. They need to apply it to all their files so they remain safe, even in the hands of an external agency.

Otherwise, hackers like thedarkoverlord will continue seizing the opportunity to steal, leak, and threaten in an effort to make a profit – or even just to prove they can.

Want to see what the latest version of BlackBerry Workspaces can offer your businessCheck out our release blog!  You can also visit the official BlackBerry Workspaces page or take a look at the Workspaces Email Protector product page.

About Dan Auker