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Game of Thrones | A Song of Leaks and Hacks

18 August 2017 09:45

It’s one of the most popular television shows ever made, drawing in millions of viewers each week and having even more fans across the globe, but is Game of Thrones suffering from an online security problem?

A girl watching Game of Thrones on her laptop.

With the show coming into its final act, fans are at fever point and ever more desperate to get their hands on the newest episodes ahead of release. As a result, any potential episode leak is bound to be leapt upon instantly, and this week was no different. Four days before it was meant to air, episode six - the penultimate episode of the current series, series seven - was accidentally uploaded online to the HBO Nordic and HBO España platforms. =

HBO has put the mishap down to a “third-party vendor” and has said that “the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized”, but evidently this was not quick enough, as it was immediately downloaded by online pirates before being distributed on torrent sites all across the World Wide Web. Soon after this, spoilers began popping up on Reddit and social media and screenshots from the episode, in full HD, began to be shared, thus confirming the authenticity of the leaks.

It’s not the first time HBO has fallen victim to such a scandal, earlier this month 1.5 terabytes of data, including unaired episodes of Insecure, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Ballers were leaked alongside company emails and Game of Thrones script summaries. This was the result of determined hackers as opposed to human error, but being such a high profile organisation clearly brings with it an increased likelihood of falling victim to such an attack.

(Take a look at a similar blog: Big Data Means Big Risk | Just Ask Sweden!)

These leaks haven’t yet seemed to impact viewing figures for HBO, with the most recent GoT episode drawing in record viewing figures of 10.72 million viewers, up on the previous high of 10.2, but for how much longer will this be the case if viewers know they can get perfect quality episodes without paying? This is saying nothing of the loss of confidence in HBO the stars of the show much be feeling, as if unaired episodes, scripts and company emails can be leaked, surely too can the personal information of the actors and actresses. Advertisers are also unlikely to wish to keep paying extortionate amounts to have their products share screen time with the blockbuster show if they know they are being circumnavigated by online pirating.

The risk of losing valuable data

Human error is one of the biggest causes of data security issues, and educating your staff on the importance of practising good security practice should be one of the chief aims of any business or organisation in this increasingly connected world. The speed with which data can be distributed once it is compromised means that protecting your data relies almost entirely on prevention, as once some data has been leaked it is incredibly difficult to erase its presence entirely from the internet again.

Confused about the new GDPR framework? Here's a simplified view to help you understand what to expect.

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