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Game of Thrones can teach you valuable security lessons

Vincenzo Marsden | Aug. 2, 2016
The web is indeed dark and full of terrors. Here are seven lessons for security managers pulled straight out of Westeros.

5. The dead can come back to haunt you

Many small businesses, midsize companies and even large corporations assume that once the hard drives on their computer systems are wiped, they can sell the computers or throw them away without worry, but as we’ve learned from Game Of Thrones, dead doesn’t always mean dead. Some ATA, IDE and SATA hard drive manufacture designs include support for the ATA secure erase standard and have been since the dawn of the 21st century. But research in 2011 found that four out of eight manufacturers did not implement ATA Secure Erase correctly.

If we’ve learned anything from Game of Thrones, it’s that death doesn’t always mean forever.

Much like Melisandre and Thoros use magic words to resurrect the dead,
cybercriminals and hackers alike can resurrect data from sources long thought to be dead.

All data has value, and the retrieval of most trivial data from major corporations can be valuable to a company from its infancy to the big leagues.

Small businesses and midsize companies may not be concerned with hackers or intelligence agencies attempting to retrieve data from their hard drives after they’ve been wiped. Larger companies and corporations however, would do best to ensure that data they want gone stays gone.The Gutmann method, a 35-pass overwrite technique, may be considered overkill by some, but it’s been tried and true for years and may work for years to come.

6. The iron price

The biggest issue among leading information security experts is a lack of understanding of cloud-based security. The vast majority of web-based companies put more of their financial resources into security software than they put into hardware and the people working for them. A trend among elite web-based companies in big data is hybrid storage; private cloud storage, hyperscale compute storage and centralized storage, all of which combine yesterday’s technology with the technology of tomorrow. The value of data continues to rise, while the value of human beings with access and control of data has remained stagnant.

From software to hardware, the cost of information security can be expensive, but it’s worth it. In Game of Thrones, Valyrian Steel is a rare commodity, but it’s one of the few things that shatter a White Walker into ice dust.

“It comes down to valuation and people’s understanding, said Spafford. “If people better understood the cost involved. Centralized storage may cost more, but it comes down to valuation of the data. There are some things being tried by organizations using data splitting and cryptography, it requires extra processing and can be hard to audit.  What is the real cost of sharing, valued with operational cost? A number of people aren’t willing to spend to protect the information they are trying to protect.”


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