And the Oscar Goes to … The Cloud!

The cloud has become one of the most sensationalized topics in pop culture today. Whether it’s in movies, television series or entertainment news, Hollywood is known for capitalizing on certain trends, with a demonstrable knack for knowing what people want to hear, see and talk about. Identifying those trends can translate into a huge revenue generator for the entertainment industry, as every filmmaker and screenwriter intertwines it into their work, often creating new stories specifically covering that topic. Since today is World Backup Day, I’d like to celebrate by sharing some stories of how data and the cloud are portrayed in pop culture and how I believe it’s shaped our views on technology in our everyday lives.

This may seem like a strange start, but bear with me.  Years ago, there was a huge pop culture phenomenon with penguins. I have no idea how or where the fascination came from, but Hollywood saw the interest and struck, coming out with “March of the Penguins,” “Happy Feet,” “Penguins of Madagascar,” “Surfs Up” and more—all starring penguins. We’ve also seen filmmakers pick up on similar trends in certain types of movies, like found footage films, like “The Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity,” “Cloverfield,” etc.

Today, we’re in the midst of a technology craze. As individuals, we’re focused on the latest innovations, constantly searching for ways to connect with one another faster. Businesses are constantly working to make the user experience better, simpler, quicker. Like other pop culture fixations, the entertainment industry has zeroed in and begun to capitalize on things like the cloud and big data.  Turn on the news and you’ll hear about celebrities who’ve had their private photos hacked and leaked to the world (most recently, Adele had her pregnancy photos exposed). Or just look to stories about security data breaches like the hospital in California, which was shut down and forced to pay $17,000.

The risks associated with the cloud have become so popular (probably because people don’t want it happening to them), that Hollywood has struck again! The theme? Anything and everything is accessible to anyone who wants it bad enough, featuring the main protagonist—the cloud.

“Sex Tape” is a perfect example. This movie starred Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, a married couple who wake up to discover the sex tape they made the night before has been accidentally synced to their iCloud account. The film follows their frantic search for the cloud, who has access to it, and how to delete it. This comedy would be anyone’s worst nightmare. After all, the reality is that it’s only funny because it’s not happening to you.

Another great example is the hit TV series “Mr. Robot,” about a young computer programmer who has the ability to hack into multi-billion dollar organizations to expose critical data. The show demonstrates that nothing is safe in the cloud. Even Rocky Balboa is being forced to the cloud. In the movie “Creed,” his new protégé, Apollo Creed’s son Adonis, takes a photo of his workout plan and hands it back to Rocky. Confused, Rocky tells him to take the paper. Creed responds, “It’s in the cloud now!”

Although “Sex Tape,” “Mr. Robot” and “Creed” are box office draws focused on entertainment first, each of these examples delivers an important message. There’s this mad rush to get everything into the cloud, but there’s no push among the general public to support necessary security measures to protect ourselves. It seems like only now are we realizing the huge need to ensure our data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.

It’s clear that our data and use of the cloud needs the right security and insurance. Think of your home for example. You can put bars on the windows, locks on the doors and install an alarm system. But if someone wants to get in badly enough, they’ll find a way. There will never be a foolproof way to guarantee your security, however there are plenty of steps you can take to work towards the best security for you.

But how do you do that, effectively?

I’ll use the example of my mother and two loud Jack Russell Terriers, Tucker and Bailey. I give my parents grief all the time as to why they don’t train the dogs not to bark, and their response is always the same. They say if someone is going to break into a house, would they prefer a house with or without barking dogs? The dogs aren’t trained to attack, however they do add a layer of complexity to the situation, one that might turn a malicious person away. Security like antivirus, malware protection, anti-spam and password protection may not be foolproof security measures, but by implementing these types of solutions you’re minimizing risk.

In addition to front end solutions (the dogs), you also need something on the back end to protect yourself and your assets in case the worst does actually happen, which is why people insure their homes. Backup, disaster recovery and business continuity all allow you to recover data should there be a malicious attack, virus, etc. You should always have a plan for the what-if scenarios to make sure you have the capacity to move forward no matter what happens. A backup won’t prevent hackers or ransomware, but it will keep your business up and running during times of adversity.

I never thought in a million years that my love for movies, technology and dogs could come together in any sort of sensible way, but anything’s possible. Technology, data and security are an integral part of all our lives, on both a personal and professional level, so of course Hollywood would pick up on it. And while the context is entertainment, these films often explore serious cloud threats with real-world analogues, the kind that can carry severe consequences. So even if we find ourselves caught up in the escape of a good movie that plays up the humor of suddenly finding yourself very exposed, it never hurts to take a moment to secure our own backup and protection measures after we’re done laughing.

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