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Netflix: Orange Is The New Hack

Hackers think they’re so clever. They think they’re the dominant destructor that will have companies on their knees begging for them to give their business back to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

An individual or group of hackers named ‘thedarkoverlord’ (they have clearly googled ‘best villain names’) has very recently tried to tamper with Netflix, the company with a market value of around $41 billion.

The threat emerged as a form of blackmail, to release the new and very popular series of Orange Is The New Black earlier than scheduled onto torrent sites. This would allow any torrent users to download the series ahead of the official broadcast in June. The hacker’s ideology was that everybody would download the new series, and Netflix would lose all its credibility and nobody would watch it, resulting in reduced viewer numbers or subscriptions and causing a bit of a mess.

Thanks to the Netflix's business model and technology, the hackers fell at the first hurdle, with a plan that was destined to fail before it began.

Don’t mess with the fans

Thanks to the dedicated 6.7 million fans of the show, this threat has been limited. If you were paying a monthly fee to watch a particular series, in this case Orange Is The New Black, you’ll want to watch it on your big TV, iPad or whatever device you use. You'll want to view it in high quality, exactly how it’s meant to be seen, rather than a poor quality torrent download. Fortunately, the fans of the show see this as well, so the hackers plan had been immediately foiled.

It’s just not worth it

In comparison to streaming from the likes of Netflix, downloading torrents seems to be a laborious task for the end result. Not only does it require you to expose yourself on a sketchy website, but you will then have to navigate your way around to find a legitimate file, wait for it to download from a server somewhere in the digital abyss, watch it on a laptop and for it all to be in terrible quality. Not to mention the proliferation of malware on illegal torrent and streaming websites. Who in their right mind would do that? If you’re going to go to that much effort to download a likely corrupt and bad quality file, you might as well wait a few weeks for the Netflix version to be released for £5.99 per month, with the access to all of the other shows as well.

The future and the unknown

Following this demand that Netflix flat out refused to pay, it’s comforting to know that these attacks are not as effective as once thought.

Netflix doesn’t have much to say about the incident. “We are aware of the situation,” it said in a statement. “A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved.”
Of course, Netflix, and every other provider of entertainment will never do anything to influence hackers or illegal downloads, but it is a concern that there was a security breach to such a high calibre vendor. I guess nobody can know the damage that has or will be done, as it’s impossible to measure. Nonetheless it’s still a topic that needs answers.

The more hackers realise that threatening to launch a programme early will likely not pay off, the less likely they are to commit the crime. The fact that Netflix is available in 200 countries means that torrent files will only be use to those countries that don’t have it, in which case the threat is null and void to Netflix’s customer base.
Although this particular example of a hack and ransom has proven to be generally ineffective, the key message to take away is never think you’re safe from cyber threats, regardless of your organisation. From a one-man-band business to the likes of Netflix, threats come in all different shapes and forms as we know from previous blogs. Protecting your business is key to maintaining a safe working environment, avoiding downtime and potentially devastating reputation damage.

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