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Five lessons Game of Thrones can teach you about data security

Danielle Uskovic
Danielle UskovicDaenerys Targaryen + Head of Digital Marketing Asia Pacific
I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.

I’m a Digital Marketing aficionado with a passion for all things innovation. I have lots of experience across business-to-business and consumer sectors leading award winning sales and marketing teams for ASX 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Currently, I am head of Digital Marketing for Lenovo Asia Pacific. I’m passionate about innovation and the difference technology can make in our lives. It’s an exciting time to be working in digital and seeing the impact it is having on businesses everywhere.

You can follow my escapades on twitter @uskovic

Game of Thrones may be filled with drama, excitement, and a constant sense of terror for your favourite character, but it also has some vital lessons that it can teach you. For example, there are several useful facts that the much-loved series can teach you about a vital area of your business: data security.


Lesson #1: No One Is Safe

One of the first lessons you learn in Game of Thrones is that no one is safe. In other popular series, as long as you fall in love with the main character, you can rest assured that no one is going to kill them off. If nothing else, you’ll probably have years to follow your favourite characters as they grow into themselves and experience victories against their enemies. Throughout Game of Thrones, however, no one is safe. As early as the first season, our first beloved main character, Ned Stark, is beheaded. By the end of season 4, fans are left in absolute shock at watching the massacre that occurs at the “Red Wedding” where a few main characters are killed off.

It’s critical to your business that you learn this same lesson as it pertains to cyber security: no one is safe. In years past, small businesses might have assumed that they were safe from data breaches and other attacks. Other than a few basic layers of security, they didn’t need to protect themselves the way big businesses did. After all, who’s going to bother with a tiny little business when there are so much bigger, better options out there to attack?

Unfortunately, cyber criminals have learned that small businesses often don’t have the protections larger businesses can enjoy–and they may not even have the means to acquire the same level of protection. 43% of cyber attacks are against small businesses. With only 14% of those small companies self-reporting an adequate level of digital protection, this is an arena that’s wide open for hackers to exploit. No one is safe–and if you aren’t prepared to fight back, it’s your business that’s on the line.


Lesson #2: It’s Not Victory Yet

Throughout Game of Thrones, a temporary season of peace and a lack of conflict don’t mean victory and in fact, the quieter it’s been, the sooner you can expect to see that peace shattered with some catastrophic act. You may think that your business is well protected. You have strong password security, your antivirus software was installed on all of your systems, and you’re ready to stand strong against any threat that might come your way.

In the world of data security, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Just when you think that you’ve managed to create an impenetrable wall that no one can slip through, some new threat arises. You need to regularly retrain your employees, learn more about the threats to your industry and others, and stay on top of the changing cyber security threats. Every day, as many as one million new malware threats could rise to challenge your business. The software that you thought perfectly secure may have been exploited by someone who has found a gaping hole–and if you don’t install the critical patch, your business will remain vulnerable.

If you want to keep your data secure, setting things up once is not an assurance of victory. Instead, you must stay on top of updates to all of your software and pay attention to the possible rise of new threats. Without that, you’ll quickly discover that there’s a threat coming from behind that you weren’t able to predict–and it will shatter your peace.


Lesson #3: Enemies Don’t Announce Themselves

In many fantasy novels, the bad guys announce themselves. They wear all black, do a lot of brooding, and sweep around muttering about how they want to take over the world. Game of Thrones villains, however, don’t do that. They may come as friends, convincing the main characters that they’re there to help until they ultimately stab them in the back.

This is the method used by many hackers and social engineers. They act like friends. They may come in as a customer to check out your business. They’ll convince you that they’re there to help your business when really, they’re there to steal critical information. They don’t announce themselves as a threat–and as a result, you may be targeted before you know it.

Keeping your information secure means a constant awareness of the basics of social engineering. This includes not giving away key information simply because someone wears a smiling face, making sure to verify that anyone who comes to the building is supposed to be there, and knowing what information it’s safe to give away over the phone, among other strategies. Keep in mind that your business is only as strong as its weakest link: every member of the team must be trained in this critical area of cyber security to keep you safe.


Lesson #4: Some Enemies are Harder to Destroy

Throughout Game of Thrones, enemies that have been “killed” don’t always stay that way. Melisandre has little trouble bringing the dead back to walk the world again–and that means they have a new opportunity to wreak havoc on the living. This same principle is true of cyber security: all too many times, a threat that you thought had been eradicated isn’t truly “dead” and will come roaring back to target your business again the moment you think you’re safe. It’s important, therefore, that you be sure a virus or threat has been completely eliminated before you relax your watch. If it hasn’t been destroyed completely, from every computer that’s connected to your network, it may come back to target you again when you least expect it.


Lesson #5: Winter is Coming

“Winter is coming.” You hear it repeatedly throughout the show. Everyone is prepared for the day when winter will come, bringing with it a threat like nothing Westeros has ever experienced before. In the world of data security, you can also rest assured that eventually, that threat is coming.

You may be lucky enough to never see it for yourself. If you’re adequately prepared, those threats may be turned aside as though they were never there. When it comes to data security, however, you can be sure that there’s a threat coming for your business and your data–and there’s nothing you can do to hide your business forever. Instead, it’s necessary that you, like the characters in Game of Thrones, prepare. You need the tools that will protect your business and ensure that when an attack does come, you’ll be able to survive it. This includes:

  • Strong antivirus protection
  • Data backups that will allow you to restore data that’s been lost or encrypted
  • A response plan that will enable a quick response in the event of a data breach
  • Regular security testing to ensure that your business is as secure as possible
  • Firewalls to help protect your data
  • Regular security training that will enable your employees to spot social engineers and identify hackers

Is your business prepared? When winter inevitably comes, and you’re faced with a cyber security threat, are you going to be devastated, or will you be ready to act? By learning these critical lessons straight from Game of Thrones, you’ll be able to protect your business better and create a wall that will keep you protected no matter what threat might come your way.

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