How news organisations can defend themselves against cyber threats

Stuart Almond, Head of Intelligent Media Services, Sony Europe

Cyber attacks are on the rise

Uber is the latest company to hit the headlines this week after hackers exposed data of 57m drivers and users. Last year’s WannaCry ransomware attack compromised thousands of computers across 150 countries and was described as one of the biggest challenges of 2016 by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). Only sheer luck stopped the attack from spreading further, but not before many businesses and organisations around the world had already paid the ransom to regain control of their files and devices.


While WannaCry primarily wreaked havoc on hospitals, factories and public infrastructure, any organisation, including media companies, are vulnerable to a potential attack. Over the eight months that followed its inception in late 2016, the NCSC observed 480 major cyber incidents, of which over 90% were targeted attacks aimed at individual companies. Organisations like media companies would be considered particularly vulnerable, not just because of the ongoing fake news crisis and attempts to influence reporting, but especially as they often save all their data assets in just one single location. This means that criminals only need to gain access to the system once to paralyse the whole organisation.

Where to start?

Most people know that backing up files regularly and thoroughly can help avoid widespread loss in the event of a cyber attack. But, again, if the backup is stored in the same location as all other assets, it is likely going to be affected in the same way. This is where WORM (write once, ready many) comes into play. WORM technology allows organisations to only write down information once and prevents any future attempts at modifying or erasing this data. Not only does that help organisations meet regulatory requirements, it also supports archiving functions and the management of IT systems in the event of a failure.


WORM technology is compatible with many different storage formats. From optical discs that provide greater reliability and longevity, to tape drives that offer high capacity and portability, to short-term solutions like hard disk drives (HDD). Even cloud storage can nowadays work this way so the barriers to adoption for organisations are relatively low. In particular, media companies benefit from WORM technology as it ensures business continuity, offers improved disaster recovery, provides better archiving and even has the potential to save money in the long term.

Virtual defences

At the end of the day, most attacks come at some financial cost to an organisation. As the NCSC has revealed, nearly seven out of ten large businesses identified a breach or attack in 2016. Shockingly, the average cost of an attack to these organisations was £20,000, but in some cases, it reached millions of pounds. So, the threat of any business falling victim to a costly cyber attack is very real. WORM may not counter every single potential security risk, but it is sensible place for media companies to start if they want to build up their virtual defences.

Intelligent Media Services from Sony