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Q&A with Ian Hamilton, CTO of Signiant

The idea that we can build a single impenetrable barrier around all of our information and assets just doesn't apply anymore By Ian Hamilton | Chief Technology Officer
What do production studios need to know about the Sony breach?

I think the industry needs to rallying around victims of cyber crime. Culturally, we have a tendency to blame the victim because it helps us justify the notion that a cyber attack won't impact our own business. But everyone is vulnerable.

We can't just brush off successful attacks as someone else's bad security practices. We all need to be smarter about security, which means learning from what happened and letting go of outdated thinking.

It's no longer about thinking you can completely defend against every possible cyber attack, but also about monitoring and adjusting practices as quickly as the attackers do.

How can production studios avoid piracy issues?

I'm not sure piracy can be avoided all together.

The idea that we can build a single impenetrable barrier around all of our information and assets just doesn't apply anymore. Security experts have been telling us this for years. We need a strategy that involves a tiered understanding of different security levels for assets and layers of defense, incase any one area is breached.

There is something that can be learned from Zombie fiction. The brain-eating zombies are always finding ways to get into the survivor's compound through no specific skill, but rather, brute force. Getting in is all they're focused on, so they will eventually find a weakness to exploit. The survivors always have contingency plans with multiple built in layers of defense formed from a detailed understanding of their attackers motives and behaviors.

How has technology impacted the movie industry in both positive and negative ways?

Information technology has helped studios during production and post production to move content electronically form one location to another so they aren't reliant on moving physical media, which is full of potential points of failure and is slow.

On the upstream side of production, it's been a big productivity benefit, especially using technology like Signiant's for secure accelerated transfer.

On the downstream, consumer side, the Internet has become a highly efficient manufacturing and distribution system. This benefits studios because they can get their product to a much wider audience.  

But the Internet also benefits pirates who can more easily steal and sell content. So the same highly efficient manufacturing and and distribution systems has both positive and negative impacts on the movie industry.

How can production studios ensure they are sending video footage securely?

Make sure you are using products like Signiant's and implement defense-in-depth security strategies, where if one layer is compromised you fall back on another layer like a concentric set of walls around a fort.

It's also important to have the freedom to strategies around storage for your highest value content vs. content where efficiency of production is a major consideration. Signiant allows customers to choose between on-premises or cloud storage for different security level assets.

Why are piracy issues more relevant than ever?

It's very efficient to make, distribute and access pirated content today, especially low resolution copies like to ones being filmed with smartphones at a theater.

Companies need a comprehensive security strategy that deals with this kind of prolific piracy. But also, and more importantly, they need security practices that protect more valuable, high resolution content. The higher quality the content, the higher value it is and the better it has to be protected.

Another reason piracy has become so relevant is that people often don't consider watching pirated content online to be participating in a criminal act. We need to change people's psychology around this. Making an electronic copy is the same thing as walking into a store and stealing a hard copy. They're both theft.

Better education of consumers, prosecution of pirates and better security measures are all part combating piracy.

Why downloading pirated materials is not only illegal, but how does it adversely affects the options for entertainment in the future?
Piracy not only threatens the financial integrity of the entertainment industry, it threatens the entire art of filmmaking. When companies don't make money off movies, the investment in high quality content tends to go down. We end up getting a higher volume of lower quality content.

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Ian Hamilton | Chief Technology Officer
Ian Hamilton has been an innovator and entrepreneur in Internetworking infrastructure and applications for more than 20 years. As a founding member of Signiant, he has led the development of innovative software solutions to address the challenges of fast, secure content distribution over the public Internet and private intranets for many of the media and entertainment industries' largest companies. Prior to Signiant, Ian was Chairman and Vice President of Product Development at ISOTRO Network Management. He was responsible for launching ISOTRO's software business unit and created the NetID product suite before the company was successfully acquired by Bay Networks. Ian held senior management positions at Bay Networks and subsequently Nortel Networks, from which Signiant emerged. Previously Ian was a Member of Scientific Staff at Bell Northern Research performing applied research and development in the areas of Internetworking and security.
Related Keywords:film piracy, Sony Hack, cyber crime

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