Cyber security expert Scott Borg tells IBC365 that the media industry is in “dire straits” if cyber policies and defences aren’t given the highest level of priority.

Broadcasters need to make “big transformational changes now” if they are to protect themselves from hackers, according to the Director and Chief Economist of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, Scott Borg.

Cyber security

Cyber security “board and strategic level”: Scott Borg

Media organisations are easy targets for cyber hackers, Borg explained to IBC365 following his appearance at the IBC2018 Cyber Security Forum.

Borg cited high profile cyber attacks on Netflix, Sony and TV5Monde as incidents that have compromised content, shut down infrastructures and risked brands’ reputation.

He said: “For smaller organisations, a cyber attack could potentially compromise and bankrupt the business altogether.

He said media companies are being manipulated because of their reach with audiences.

Borg said: “The Russian effort to manipulate the 2016 US election was massive, [the attack] was larger and more sophisticated than has been recognised. The Russians have been using cyber attacks directly designed to manipulate the news.”

Borg said that media companies must give cyber security the highest level of priority. “It is not something you can leave to the technologists. It is board and strategic level now. Cyber security experts need a seat at the planning table.”

He said that companies can be compromised in many ways.

“It is not something you can leave to the technologists.  It is board and strategic level now. Cyber security experts need a seat at the planning table.” Scott Borg, US Cyber Consequences Unit

Hacks can come via suppliers, for example. “Contractors and feeder companies that are providing services to other companies are often being attacked because of their affiliation with the organisation they’re servicing, but people are not paying attention to that.”

He also cited the growth of the connected economy as a potential threat, specifically the information of things (IoT).

Borg said: “The rush to get products into operation and incorporating the smart devices across workflows and operations is where security can be compromised.”

Many countries in the West, he said, are “mostly oblivious” to cyber breaches.

Borg added: ”Seeing these attacks as individual events but not seeing the organised scale of these attacks is remiss. Media companies are part of these larger scale agendas and that needs to be recognised.”

Borg reiterates that awareness is key to staying ahead, and says the public, media industry and politicians must work together to counter cyber warfare. “A key driver is the public who are often more sophisticated about information technology than the politicians.”

Without this collaboration, he said: “We are in dire straits, the future is not looking good.”

Borg added: “People need to recognise what is going on, look at the bigger picture of what is happening and recognise that cyber security people need to be included in strategy meetings and planning from the beginning.”