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Content supply chain security is more vital and challenging than ever in a global and complex media landscape

By Jon Finegold | Nov 1, 2019

Throughout the industry, content supply chains are becoming more distributed across global locations and more interconnected between companies. Largely driven by the growth of consumer demand for content on any device and service, anywhere and anytime, content creation and distribution workflows have become increasingly complex. This has major implications for content supply chain security.

Because of this increased distribution, most media enterprises now regularly work with an array of smaller specialty production, post production, services, and delivery companies. Working together, they’re able to not only meet consumer demand for more content, but create content that is more creative, diverse, and globally available.

The old vs. new paradigm

On the technology side, advances in cloud and IP networks have supported the shift, bridging geographic distances and bringing advanced computer and software solutions — once only accessible to the largest media companies — to everyone in the Internet connected world.

But not every company has a technology stack that provides consistent protection and high-performance, and — thus — not every organization is able to achieve content supply chain security to the degree they should. For example, we often see companies, large and small, still relying on FTP, despite its well-known content security and performance issues. When companies finally replace FTP with modern SaaS solutions (like Signiant Media Shuttle), they quickly realize they should have taken the step long ago.

Indeed, the most technically-savvy media startups today understand that intelligent cloud-based file transfer software — that is secure, easy to use, and reliably high-performing — needs to be core to their tech stack for the sake of content supply chain security. Founders like Nathan Ross, CEO of Blackwater Digital Services located just outside of Atlanta, make content security a priority, “When I started my own company, Media Shuttle was definitely one of the first things I spent money on.”

What holds some content supply chains back?

In the large companies we hear from, their IT leaders have been pushing to replace FTP for years due to content supply chain security concerns. But busy managers understandably put it off. They assume that, because FTP is so embedded in their workflows across so many offices, it will take a huge amount of effort to replace and onboard people to a new solution.

Others–typically smaller companies–see FTP as a cost-cutting option, not realizing the hidden costs associated with IT headaches, workflow inefficiencies, and reputation hits from using outdated, slow, and insecure tech.

A catalyst for change

The 2017 breaches at HBO, Netflix, and Disney — which security experts have said were likely due to hackers exploiting FTP used by third-party post-production companies — resulted in several large media enterprises banning the use of FTP. In many ways, those security scares set into motion a series of positive changes across the industry, as well as within Signiant.

This year Signiant launched a new SaaS solution, Jet, that is targeted at fast and secure automated transfers between internal locations, as well as across companies. With the growth of intercompany collaboration, Jet aims to simplify regular file transfers between companies while promoting security within content supply chains.

Typically, in order for different companies to exchange content, IT specialists on both ends have to manually configure access and rules, a process that can open up security holes. Jet’s hybrid SaaS architecture supports secure handshakes between companies, making it much easier and more secure to set up these automated cross-company exchanges.  

New security standards across the industry

The launch of Signiant Jet is well timed. Currently, industry leaders are pushing for new standards aimed at ensuring content supply chain security and raising performance requirements. The Digital Production Partnership (DPP) in Europe is one example of a regulatory agency taking the issue on. And the newly formed Trusted Partner Network (TPN), a joint venture between the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), is another organization making strides. Of course, at Signiant, we’re happy to see this shift. Our Media Shuttle solution, used for fast, easy and secure transfers between people, is already present in every country in the world. With the launch of Jet to support automated transfers between locations and companies, we’re further supporting the industry’s interconnected reality and enabling the high content supply chain security and performance standards that leaders are looking for.