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Data leaks in Hollywood: Who might be next?

By Stephen Midgley, Vice President of Global Marketing, Absolute Software

The recent iCloud hack and subsequent leak of intimate photos of Hollywood celebrities has made it clear that even the rich and famous aren’t immune to data loss. The fatal mistake these stars made was to forget that data, be it an email or photo, isn’t static. More often than not it goes straight to the cloud, where in theory it can be accessed from anywhere.

What’s happened to the stars of the screen is exactly what’s happened to countless businesses and high profile individuals over the years. Clearly, there is still some progress to be made when it comes to protecting sensitive data within the cloud. But what other high profile sectors are in danger of suffering a similar fate to Jennifer Lawrence, and how can they protect themselves in the future?

  • The Vatican – The Pope set up the Vatican G8 group to look at ways to reform the Holy See’s administration, including governance and finances. However, given the Vatican’s global recognition, it could be an obvious target for hackers. Even the Vatican uses the internet and the cloud, so you have to hope these reforms will include data protection policies.
  • Whitehall – Not a stranger to lost files and data leaks, but with an election coming up, maybe all the parties need to take a closer look at safeguarding data. Do the parties’ technology manifestoes need a stronger focus on endpoint security and data management?
  • FIFA – The global football association’s reputation has never been worse, yet an ill-timed data leak could cause even more damage. With four years to go until Russia 2018, FIFA’s got a couple of years to show its data protection policies are whiter than white.
  • Passport Office – Given the misery experienced by travellers over the summer due to delays with their passport applications, a data breach would further darken the Passport Office’s current reputation.  Of course, even a small breach would cause massive amounts of damage when you think about the type of data the organisation holds.

While it’s impossible to completely protect against data breaches, there are a few things that people and organisations can do to significantly reduce the risks. While these tips might be more suited to businesses, there’s a lot that Hollywood’s stars could learn too.

1.      Policy – What are you allowed to do with your work-enabled mobile phone/laptop/tablet? If you don’t make this clear to your employees they’ll always assume there are no restrictions. This could lead to selfies, dangerous applications and leaked files entering and leaving the device.

2.      Education – Often, data leaks happen because people aren’t aware of the risks. Staff need educating about the consequences of their actions on themselves and the wider company.

3.      Technology – Passwords aren’t enough to stop data leaking. Technology, ranging from two-factor authentication to device management and tracking, acts as a safeguard in case the policy and education fails.

Hopefully the iCloud data breach story will act as a cautionary tale as to the dangers of assuming the cloud is a safe environment. No matter what the device or the user, understanding the importance of policy, education and technology is fundamental to securing yourself against data leaks and ensuring your personal data doesn’t make it out into the wider world.

Picture credit: Marcus Vegas