HBO, an American premium cable and satellite television network, was the victim of a data breach. On July 31, 2017, HBO revealed that a group of hackers had stolen 1.5 terabytes of data from the network. Following the breach, the cyber criminals were systematically leaking spoilers and unaired episodes of “Game of Thrones,” one of HBO’s flagship shows.
This hack demonstrates that intellectual property can be just as valuable to cyber criminals as personal identifiable information. To avoid falling victim to a similar cyber attack, organizations should keep in mind the following business lessons learned from the HBO hack:
- Having a communications plan in place is critical. Following the breach, HBO was quick to ease the concerns of stakeholders, assuring the public that no internal emails had been stolen. However, this turned out not to be the case, and HBO publicized misinformation. This can be damaging to a brand, as balancing transparency and authenticity following a cyber event is crucial. Having a formal communications strategy can help organizations map out what information is shared to the public and at what time.
- Cyber attacks can be damaging to an organization’s reputation. Even if the financial impact of the HBO breach ends up being minimal, the reputational damage has been done. The breach jeopardizes HBO’s image and undermines customer loyalty and trust that took years to build up.
- To protect your business from a cyber attack, you need to understand your vulnerabilities. It’s been reported that the HBO hackers used multiple points of entry to get into the company’s system and steal data. Organizations should understand their vulnerabilities to protect against attacks. Entry points can differ depending on the business, but often include employees connecting to networks, online printers and employees using a virtual private network while working remotely.
While you can never predict when a data breach will occur, keeping in mind the lessons above will ensure that your organization is adequately prepared.
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