A year ago Sony suffered a major hack that prompted a string of events that seemed worthy of a tragic-comic blockbuster in response to the studio's comedy about North Korea ‘The Interview.’
The hack revealed the personal information of tens of thousands of people, exposed embarrassing email exchanges between high-powered actors and executives, cost the studio tens of millions of dollars, and one top executive lost her job. Plus, it kicked off fears of a terror attack on movie theaters so serious that all the major chains pulled the film, which prompted Sony to break from industry tradition and do the biggest day-and-date distribution of a film ever. This comedy became a beacon for free speech advocates and even President Barack Obama. And Hollywood was forever changed.
"I've seen this grand awakening in an industry that's traditionally shunned security technology," said Ajay Arora, the CEO of security company Vera. "Prior to the hack, creative types saw security as friction. It became super personal in terms of the type of information that was stolen. Across the studios, they realized that it could have been any of them."
The trend now is looking behind a traditional firewall around a company, and going on the offense so they can stop breaches before they happen or while they're in process. Now companies are constantly searching for unusual patterns: If someone logs in from Los Angeles, and then within minutes in another city.
A second trend is protecting data, no matter where it is, as employees increasingly look to access files from the cloud. Vera, which counts Viacom and talent agency CAA among its 30 clients, specializes in encrypting data and files no matter where they are. "There's no safe zone for data," says Arora. "Now any file has to be encrypted even if it's behind walls, so no matter where the data is, only authorized people have access to it."
The third thing studios and other companies are focusing on is being able to monitor carefully who has access to files and to be able to revoke that access instantly. Arora cites Edward Snowden's taking of data from the NSA — with this type of technology the government would be able to make those files he took unreadable by revoking access to them, even if they were far outside firewalls.
Now the question is whether Hollywood, as obsessed as it is with these issues, has implemented sufficient protections to prevent these types of hacks from happening again. Arora, who has met with all the studios, said that many of them have what he calls an "analysis paralysis" issue: They're anxious to do something but they don't know what to do first.
Meanwhile, the main players in last year's hack drama have fared fairly well. Kazuo Hirai, Sony's CEO, can celebrate the fact that the company's stock is up nearly 25 percent over the past 12 months.
It's business as usual for Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton, who is drawing acclaim for the success of hits 'Spectre,' the latest 007 blockbuster, plus 'Hotel Transylvania 2' and 'Goosebumps.' And there's hope that 'Concussion,' starring Will Smith, about the NFL's head trauma controversy, will draw Oscar acclaim.
Amy Pascal, who lost her job in the wake of the attack, was just featured in The New York Times Magazine's look at women behind the camera in Hollywood. She's back at work producing a range of movies, including the upcoming female reboot of 'Ghostbusters.'
Seth Rogen, who co-starred in the film and has an office on Sony's lot as well as a deal with the studio, didn't fare too well this past weekend. 'The Night Before,' a comedy from the same filmmakers as 'The Interview' grossed just $10 million on a budget of $25 million.
His co-star James Franco is the star of an eight-part series on Hulu based on a Stephen King novel.