9 min read

Published 04/21/2021

Content Security Challenges Facing Industries Today: Q&A with Don Terry

By: Don Terry

Every content owner and content creator faces content security threats ranging from digital challenges to personnel.  To better understand the content security challenges facing different industries today, we sat down with our CRO Don Terry, who’s spent the majority of his career working with and for products who offer content security solutions.  In this Q&A, you can find the answers to these questions:

First off, meet Don Terry 

Hi, I’m Don Terry. I’m chief revenue officer here at 5th Kind. I have been in and around technology sales for the last 25 plus years. Ten of those I focused specifically in digital media workflow across the value chain from development all the way out to post delivery and monetization.  Most recently, I led North American sales for a company called OpenText. I was at a startup that was acquired by that organization, which was focused on various aspects of data governance, data security, data analytics, and data management. 

Over the past 10-15 years, I’ve focused in the infrastructure area of security. In fact, I got my CISSP, which is an accreditation where you go through and you learn about the security kill chain and the different types of breach and phishing and social engineering and all the other problems and things that we all have to inoculate ourselves from as digital consumers in the area of technology. 

Presently I’m focused on helping 5th Kind grow and develop our sales and marketing engagement strategy, customers and prospects.

What is content security?

Don: Content security is the ability to help secure the access, the privacy, the distribution, and control associated with files, assets, and digital media. Digital media means everything from as simple as a text, all the way to a 4k movie experience or video file. In today’s streaming and remote workforce, content gets distributed across a lot of different devices on a lot of different channels in a lot of different ways. Well implemented content security protects people from loss, from disclosure, from leaking private information. 

A great example of a content security breach was at a major studio leak a few years ago, where personal, contractual, and email data leaked. It was due to social engineering.  The “hackers” planted a thumb drive or a USB out in the parking lot. Somebody inadvertently picked it up, decided to bring it in, and plugged it into the network. That simple human action penetrated the perimeter. 

There are really no perimeters anymore. Content is decentralized and distributed out to mobile devices. The more we trade-off for convenience and remote productivity, the harder it is to secure that information which is in essence value to an organization. In the world of IP (intellectual property), whether it be media and entertainment, a software organization, or an architectural design firm, their IP is their content. And for companies that create principally content, like studios, that’s how their businesses are valued. In the case of studios, before digital content, hard copy assets would get bonded and put in the vault. Now they’re all digital files and assets, which makes it more difficult to secure that data at scale. So it’s essential for the sanctity of their business that their content is protected.

What are some of the unique content security challenges facing the M&E industry?

Don: Making a movie, TV program, or commercial is like building a house or running a hospital. The correlation is you’ve got a lot of project based employees and third-party contractors that are involved in each phase of the process. And you’ve got really time-sensitive decision points throughout the overall project plan. From a production perspective, the challenge becomes you don’t necessarily control those people. They are independent contractors. You can control to a degree environmental elements, like locking sets and preventing use of cellphones, for instance. But securing that while enabling and empowering people to be productive is a real challenge.


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How do marketing groups, agencies, and retail deal with content security?

Don: On one side, there’s securing the content from a breach and disclosure of that information. On the other side, there’s managing the status and availability of that content throughout a project’s life cycle for the teams and organizations who need them. Marketers need to get assets as early as they can in the life cycle of a particular campaign or project to start meeting their delivery windows, their campaign activations, and building a following socially through all those different channels. One of the challenges they consistently face is knowing when an asset or a file has been creatively reviewed and approved. Has it been passed by legal? Has it been cleared or not? Has it been approved by the brand owner or the digital product owner for clearance? If a sponsor or celebrity is involved, they have their own people that approve their clearance. So it may be legally approved by Nike, but has it been legally approved by LeBron James? Maybe not. And releasing content that’s not fully approved is a big no-no. 

Marketing and retail overlap in regards to content security where they deal with the same thing: approved product content. For example, a retail outlet receives a shoe and they post it in their website catalog or put it on their shelves too early, prior to being approved, it can have consequences. I’ll give you a great example, and I should note this ended up being a strategic leak by the marketing team, but it’s still a good example. So a brand put out an image of a toy for The Eternals. Someone took a picture of it and shared it socially, effectively leaking Angelina Jolie’s costume, prior to the movie release. 

Describe some of the unique and creative challenges that the automotive industry faces related to content security, as well as maybe some of the partners that they work with as a part of that process.

Don:  We live in the age of pervasive video content and social, which makes makes every company a media company now. Everybody is a brand and every company is a studio because of social. Because of the way that live streaming and video have become so ubiquitous in all our lives, it’s almost an expectation now that if I go look at a Tesla or Camry or the new VW electric SUV, then I’m going to have some kind of enriched visual experience. While it’s media outside of the media industry, those same rules apply. 

With automotive companies, there’s a couple of different decision points. I look at the value chain and think of it in different distribution points for decisioning. And so one of those is the agency and design process, right? The brands are working with agencies to build up their entire campaign whether that be in-house or out-house or a hybrid thereof.  The teams share information throughout the design process. The minute the marketing team has a blueprint or design and art documents concept, they start building campaigns and go-to-market opportunities for the new lineup. 

When automotive brands do an early release on a car, it’s not unlike a movie or a book or any other type of campaign where you don’t want those marketing and brand elements to leak out early. Or, if you’ve got a new concept that’s going to be hitting the auto show, it’s like an upfront in the TV world.  You don’t want to leak it before you have a chance to do a big splash in a promotional campaign and a big event. 

So automotive companies are dealing with design teams, integrated marketing departments, agencies, and external sponsors.  One step further, and they’re dealing with the retail component of dealerships. With new releases, the dealerships want to get that marketing information as soon as they can, right along with the incentives, to start promoting, drawing people in, and get those early orders on a waiting list.

Hummer is doing a great job of that right now. It just created arguably one of the best hybrid cars that can go zero to 60 (mph) in three seconds, and it crawls up the side of a mountain. Yet, it’s not available until 2022, 2023. So Hummer is using Epic’s Unreal Engine to create an entire concept that looks real to the naked eye like inside and outside the car.  On top of that, they’ve localized it. So if you’re in Florida where I live, you’ll see the vehicle in a landscape surrounded by Palm trees, beaches, and maybe even amusement parks. If you’re in Colorado, you’ll see it backdropped by the Rocky Mountains and maybe you’re up around a ski resort. And so all of that content ends up being a very sophisticated culmination of sharing of rights of distribution that has to be secured throughout the process.


What are the content security challenges that security professionals (the CIOs, CTOs, CISOs, etc.) are having to deal with today?

Don: Security professionals in general have an arduous role to play protecting their company’s assets at scale while empowering their employees to get work done and be productive. And that’s always a catalyst between those two things. The challenge that they’re facing now, especially as we start to work from home is how do we secure those mobile phones? Those endpoints, those laptops on video conferences, right? There’s all these great tools that have emerged that aren’t necessarily providing hardened security that companies need to protect themselves. And so I think that’s one of the big decisions: to choose between the trade offs and allowances for empowering the business to get work done, where maybe you don’t have the control that you need to.

The example earlier about a production company with contractors, who creates content for a studio, which does all the distribution and owns the assets, is a good example here, too. Often, the studio doesn’t own the production company. The contractors certainly don’t work for them. And yet they have the policies and security policies around disclosure, script leaks, deal memos and more. And this challenge is compounded by the fact that now we’re all working from home and remote locations.

How is CORE by 5th Kind uniquely positioned as a content security system that can serve any of these industries that you’ve just mentioned?

Don: CORE brings a cloud-native modern platform with a suite of security features out of the box.  CORE supports TLS encryption which puts a protective shell around content. It provides watermarking at scale, personalized with each person’s name as a deterrent, whether that be visible or invisible, so it’s forensically detected and traceable.  CORE also provides immutable activity logging, such as when a person accessed the system or piece of content, what the content was, whether they shared it, and if they approved it. The platform additionally offers SSO for single sign-on, access controls, etc.

One of the things that makes CORE unique is our patented way of turning folder structures into meta structures. The platform can secure files at a status level, as an attribute or an asset type, or any combination of tags along with user permissions. For instance, CORE enables users to access only files on a project that are creatively approved for a particular character; however, if the files are still in legal review, the users won’t see them. With this granularity, you’re not having to compromise security for convenience and productivity, because we’re seamlessly doing this in the background where we’re turning the metadata into security control points.


Anything else that you would like to add about content security, CORE by 5th Kind, and what you’ve discussed today? 

Don: The one thing that COVID has accelerated obviously is the ability to work remotely, improve productivity, improve work-life balance and be able to innovate new ways to seamlessly connect people globally throughout our daily lives. The trade off of that is that we have to understand that the more access points and the more channels that we use, the more risk there is for disclosure, for breach, and for being hacked. While technology and the cloud have democratized information making it easier to access and use, they’ve also forced us to be more judicious about how and where we use data, and to be more thoughtful about how we protect ourselves as consumers, as employees, and as partners to other organizations. 5th Kind, along with our ecosystem of partners, has a unique role to play in helping empower people achieve that. 

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