Putting Out the Fire of Content Security


The recent CDSA Content Protection Summit was memorable for more than just the tragic fires spreading throughout the Los Angeles area that morning. From a programming standpoint, here’s a big shout out to our many presenters and panelists who participated. More than 260 attendees (many of whom traveled two-plus hours to attend) agreed it was our best program ever.

However, there was one session that deserved special note: the Larson Studios Case Study that shared the inside story of their publicized, spring 2017 “Dark Overlord” ransomware attack. The panel told the story in detail, openness, humor and determination. And the resounding comment of, “Don’t pay the ransom!” echoed through the room. They had nothing to hide. They had everything to share.

The presentation demonstrated an important sea-change in Hollywood’s content security culture. The story that the Larsons told was about more than the personal horror of a ransomware attack, it was about how the sound studio’s customers, their industry associations and law enforcement rallied behind them to solve and learn from the attack, all the while saving a dedicated family business and valued member of our production community in a time of need. The fact that the cyberterrorists targeted this small/medium-size business in the Hollywood production ecosystem made it everyone’s story.

The irony of the drama that was going on just a few miles north wasn’t missed. You could easily see the flames and vast smoke cloud from the roof of the Marina del Rey Marriott. At the same time as our first responders were rolling up the 405 and responding to the victims of the L.A. fires, saving lives, saving homes, stopping the wildfire attacks in its tracks, a community of content security first responders was learning first-hand and for the first time publicly, the drama of a business under attack.

The Larson panel at this year’s CDSA Content Protection Summit set a new standard for industry learning and collaboration. As our hearts go out to the victims of the fires, our thanks go out to the Larson team for a first, and very big step in altering the culture of shame, secrecy and guilt that has so-often come with a company’s content protection breach.

The CDSA community is critical to the continued evolution of content protection and security culture, for both service providers and content creators, in Hollywood and M&E around the globe. It’s not a matter of “if” our industry’s content is going to be targeted and attacked, it’s a matter of “when and where.” And, most importantly, it’s a matter of how we as an industry gather together to learn and help.

— Martin Porter, president, CDSA