Writers of new James Bond flick have lax security to thank

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Patrick Jobin, technical writer, Storagepipe Solutions
Patrick Jobin, technical writer, Storagepipe Solutions

I'm personally a huge fan of the James Bond franchise. Although many critics may have considered Ian Fleming  a mediocre writer, his professional background provided these fantastic stories with a sense of authenticity and realism which made them culturally relevant. And when it came time to turn some of these books into film, producers made sure that these new interpretations were updated to remain relevant with modern culture and social attitudes.

That's why I was so thrilled to hear about the latest Bond film Skyfall, which is the 23rd in the series. The plot for Skyfall centers around the disastrous effects of data loss, and the security and privacy debates that revolve around Web 2.0, governance, cloud computing, BYOD and big data.

The film's story is based on a lost hard drive, whose contents end up getting leaked through social networks. As a result, the identities of all operating secret agents are exposed, and the future of MI6 is put into jeopardy.

Although it's common to see “hacking” in spy movies, it is usually portrayed in laughably unrealistic and over-glamorized ways. What makes this plot different is the fact that it assumes the viewer has a basic understanding of technology, and seems to present a very realistic data breach scenario. (Although we won't know for sure until the film officially opens)

Based on my professional experience, stolen computers and theft of unencrypted backup media are among the top sources of data breaches. And this is a major factor in companies deciding to replace manual backup processes with secure, encrypted, fully-automated storage and backups to the (public or private) cloud.

What's even more interesting for me about the movie's plot is that it marks an important social shift. In my view, this is an indicator that IT security is no longer a technology issue. Instead, it's now a social issue, which deeply affects the lives of most ordinary people.

A good virtual desktop environment, protected by a strong VPN and backed by strictly enforced security policies, could probably have made this film much less interesting. But what gives this movie realism is the fact that many large organizations are still ill-prepared for the new security threats being presented by the consumerization of IT.

With mobile computing, teleworking, BYOD and fragmented offices, even large established companies find their valuable intellectual property floating around outside of the organization. Much of this data is never backed up, because these companies still rely on obsolete manual backup processes which date back to the desktop PC era.

This is especially true of larger organizations which adapt to change more slowly, and who may have a heavy bureaucracy that makes it difficult to modify well-established security processes.

Of course, the film doesn't come in the United States until early next month, so there may be other complicating factors which I don't yet know about. But the one thing I do know is that this new film will make IT security, digital privacy and data protection into a mainstream topic of conversation.

Issues that had traditionally been confined to the data center are now concerns that affect every branch of the organization.

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