Why big box office starts with security

min read

The cinema industry relies on top-notch security. From secretive working titles for upcoming films to non-disclosure agreements covering everyone who steps on a film set, everything is geared towards protecting major investments against leaks that can cost big business.

And it’s no different for cinema operators. Cinemas regularly deal with protecting moviegoer data, preventing hacks and maintaining smooth operations around major movie releases. Vista’s own customer research shows many cinemas are concerned about the rise of cyber threats. The latest Cyber Signals report issued by Microsoft reveals the worrying rise of a new, global “ransomware as a service” industry, where malicious software is now being rented from professional hackers and used by anyone wanting to make a dishonest buck by stealing data or freezing operations until they get paid. There is a vast, fast-maturing ecosystem of ransomware businesses who are extremely quick to innovate, and whose innovation is equally quickly imitated by other players. There are even specialist cottage industries, such as initial access brokers who specialise in simply gaining access to systems on behalf of cybercriminal organisations.

Managing cybersecurity for both the protection of moviegoer data and maintenance of optimal operations efficiently is crucial for cinema business. As theatres work to bring back the crowds, providing an outstanding customer experience is also even more important than it ever was. That's why, as we bounce back post-Covid, cybersecurity is of essential importance.

Scaling up and down creates potential holes in your armour

The cinema industry uniquely sees massive shifts in demand. Depending on what movies are slated for release, a cinema chain might sell 1,000 tickets online in a week, or 10,000. This is great for the business, but also means that it can open itself up to increased DDoS attempts and bot attacks as bad actors see the increased traffic as an opportunity to sneak in undetected.

No one wants further disruption through outages, or embarrassing data leaks that erode trust in your business. Especially when, according to IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach has risen to US$4.35 million in 2022. Just as you always have ushers and theatre attendants checking people’s tickets on their way to their seats, to make sure customers are where they’re supposed to be, it’s imperative to stay on top of your cybersecurity. There’s no such thing as buying a solution and ‘leaving it to do its thing’, checking only the first night’s tickets then forgetting about it for the rest of the week. If there’s a back door unlocked, guaranteed, someone will find it.

Resilience requires viewing cybersecurity as more than just a one-off, and acknowledging the potential ongoing threat to your business’s reputation, goals, and people. Good cybersecurity is an opportunity to protect your business and your bottom line.

Businesses that invest in leading cybersecurity have an opportunity to get ahead of their competitors. Recent research found just 5 percent of small-to-medium-sized businesses report cybersecurity to be their biggest threat, despite the number of cyber threats taking down businesses rising year-on-year. Alongside this, IBM found that 74 percent of organisations have inconsistent cybersecurity plans, or none at all. Many businesses believe they will be covered by cyber insurance, so they don’t need to worry about ransomware. However, the cost of cyber insurance, not to mention the difficulty of meeting requirements, is increasing as a result of booming cybercrime.

For cinemas, special security needs include proactively protecting customer data, as well as ongoing business operations to prevent disruption to ticket sales or websites. It also means having the right security in place to enable innovation through cloud services that provide secure access and better scalability than ever before, as Vista Cloud does. Ultimately, what cybersecurity provides is confidence to explore more avenues to appeal to moviegoers. Cinemas that provide the most seamless service, and have the confidence to innovate with new technologies, will have the edge as audiences seek the best new experiences.

For many cinemas, the issue is one of resourcing. Vista’s research shows that 78 percent of cinema CEOs see frequent innovation as important, and part of the driving force behind this is not wanting IT teams to have the hassle of maintaining and updating tools and solutions themselves.

There’s a positive outlook

The good news is there are now better security options than ever, that provide the kind of ongoing vigilance needed without requiring a lot of in-house support. While the cinema industry has been traditionally slow to adopt cloud technologies, this is set to change with the advent of new products like Vista Cloud.

Unlike on-premise solutions, next-generation tools like Vista Cloud use multiple layers of security, backed up with much tighter user authentication procedures than standard on-premise security platforms. They provide 24/7 vigilance that doesn’t simply try to keep bad actors out, but can tell “who’s been where, and when”, and alert owners to any suspicious activity so they can manage it in real time. With modern cloud security, updates are ongoing, so there’s no downtime for major security patches – great news for customers and in-house IT teams alike.

With massive blockbusters back in the box office, there’s more opportunity now than at any time over the past few years to recapture the hearts of moviegoers and remind them just why there’s nothing like the real cinema experience. The trick is maintaining that trust and creating even greater experiences with the right approach to security. Investing in security isn’t just an afterthought – it’s essential to doing business in the modern era. And with Vista Cloud now at cinemas’ fingertips, this could be the new golden age of cinema cybersecurity – bringing with it more resilience, more innovation, and ultimately, better box office.

Written by

Chris South

VP of Engineering, Vista