Data Breaches Can Become Monsters – And Not Just Around Halloween
Inspired by movies like I was a Teenage Werewolf and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and emboldened by the new Super 8 movie camera I had gotten for my birthday, my friends and I set out to make a horror movie. We were 15 at the time and there was an old abandoned house in the neighborhood that just begged to be used as a location for filming our six-minute epic, The Monster from Shawnee Meadows Cul-de-sac.
The premise was simple. A bunch of teenagers dressed for trick or treating went to the door of the scary old house on Halloween. The people residing in the house were nice, but the monster they kept in the cellar wasn’t and it chased everyone around for four of the six minutes. Only the beauty of the only girl in our group of amateur movie makers stopped the monster from its rampage, and eventually coaxed it back into the cellar where it became a model train hobbyist.
Sure, the story was hackneyed, but the humor was refreshing. There were production problems, such as trying to disguise the summer background as autumnal Halloween, and not falling through the floor of the dilapidated old house. The monster was made from a canvas bag and car parts we found in a friends’ garage, along with a little green paint, so it basically looked like a canvas bag and car parts with a little green paint. But the movie was our first attempt at making an artistic statement and having fun at the same time.
You can imagine our disappointment when the local drug store we had entrusted to develop our movie lost the film. All of those hours devoted to making a movie we could share with our friends, not to mention unique moments captured on film, were gone. So was our ambition when we found out. The bunch of us never again attempted to make a horror movie. Who knows, had the raw footage not been lost by the carelessness of others, we might’ve become film producers and come up with something almost as good as Army of Darkness.
I was reminded of my early attempts at film creativity recently when I read about more cases of lost laptops, stolen storage devices and misplaced media containing important, personal data. And the fact that it’s almost Halloween made me feel as if businesses and other organizations still don’t get how scary it can be to lose data.
Last week, a disk drive containing the names and Social Security numbers of nearly 11,000 students and faculty of a community college was stolen from an employee’s car. A flash drive containing personal information for more than 103,000 people was lost. And this week, a computer tape containing confidential data of nearly 600,000 customers was lost by a prominent global insurance company. Like the monster in our teenage thriller, it seems the closer we get to Halloween, the larger the numbers grow.
Fears associated with data loss are not confined to scary holidays, because incidents take place constantly throughout the year, despite the many technology solutions and best practices that exist to prevent data breaches. A little prevention now can stop a minor incident from growing into a monster later.