When Jonathan Halstuch, CTO of RackTop Systems, started providing security solutions to media and entertainment industry 18 years ago, material like videos and photos needed to be physically transported from one place to another for storage, sharing and processing.

“You had to know how to safely move the data from where you are shooting or capturing the footage to a location where it can be reviewed and processed. You had to do this quickly and safely,” he said.

Since then, technology has allowed for digital transfer of information. This, however, has created enormous challenges to media companies in securing the integrity of the material.

But while media firms recognize that security means adopting corporate methods through which different people can collectively work on files, there are some realities they must contend with – the sheer size of the files, the need to outsource some of the work to smaller, less secure entities, and the fact that the methods they may choose are cumbersome and thus not too useful to their staff.

“The order of the day is making the secure path the path of least resistance,” he says.

Problematic solutions

While there remains a smattering of companies who still have a physical notion of security, more and more media and entertainment industry players recognize the increasing need for collaboration across geographies. They know that security means adopting corporate methods by which they could collectively work on and transmit files from anywhere in the world.

Unfortunately, most of these approved corporate methods are cumbersome and, some users say, counterproductive. “Usually these approved methods are not good enough for what they want to do,” Halstuch says.

As a result, people use some other consumer product to share and collaborate instead of the approved methods.

At the Creative Storage Conference held early June in Culver City, California, Halstuch spoke with his peers about the need to come up with a solution and a workflow that is easy enough to use so that people would not resist it.

“If employees start putting data in a system that the company is not even aware of, then that shared data is out there, exposed – and you never know what can become of it. Companies need their people to use the approved solutions so they can keep track of what data is being shared,” he says.

(Big) crown jewels

Banks protect the financial information of their clients and prevent any unauthorized transactions involving these funds. Healthcare companies guard their clients’ health and payment histories. Each industry has its so-called crown jewel. For media and entertainment, there are several prized information that players have to protect at all costs.

These are stories or raw footages or photos, the file sizes of which are ten or a hundred times larger than what other industries work with. Imagine the size of an hour-long piece – you don’t typically have that in banking of healthcare.

“So you have these very large files, and you want to be able to share these files quickly and easily with people as you work on it. Certainly you don’t want these going out prematurely, or outside of the official channels, because you lose revenue that is rightfully yours,” he says.

“You do this by making sure you don’t move the file often, or keep it secure when you do.”

Challenges for the future

The big studios have invested a lot in security, and they have mature and sophisticated ways to protect their data.

But these big studios do not do all of the work. Sometimes they contract some of the work to smaller supporting studios and agencies, for example for subtitles or language tracks. These smaller studios do not have the same level of sophistication in security and compliance infrastructure.

“I see this practice persisting, so these smaller studios need to have an easy-enough way to be compliant and secure and able to protect their data. They need to get tools that, for their size, are usable and manageable and will create a secure content supply chain,” Halstuch says.

This has to happen so the adversary does not target the weaker link.

“It is now easier to do security, so what we are hoping is that smaller studios will find a solution that can make them as secure as the big ones.”