Cybersecurity and Celebrities at NAB

Super Sessions at NAB  -Shonda Rhimes, Jerry Lewis, Sharon Stone share the stage with Cybersecurity



It became evident at NAB 2015 that with all our newest Smart TVs, cell phones and tablets, we have only begun to explore what if possible in the world of broadcasting.  The super sessions laid out startlingly clear scenarios, how the Broadcast Spectrum will expand, who is trying to corner the market, how we will experience it and how hard it may be for companies to protect themselves and us from cyber intrusions.

Shonda Rhimes creator of Scandal

Hailed by the Hollywood Reporter as the savior of Television on a recent cover story, the creator and executive producer of Grey’s AnatomyScandal and How to Get Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasting Hall of Fame on Monday at The Television luncheon.  She made it clear, as she had repeatedly stressed in the past year, that she wants reporters to write about her vision, her unique characters not the fact that she is black and a woman or the fact her shows boast some of the most racially diverse casts. At this point in time that diversity should be natural not exceptional.  She is a writer who loves to write and, like many screenwriters, lives for the moment when the casts speak her words, especially when a character has something new or special to reveal.

The hottest topic in general discussions was that of Cybersecurity and how broadcast and film companies like Sony need to protect their assets. In his luncheon Keynote speaker John McAfee, gave a chilling example of how one fake phone call could elicit info from a worker that could take down an organization.

John McAfee keynote

McAfee who founded his anti-virus company in 1987 also held positions at NASA, Univac, Xerox, and Lockheed.  His point is that cybersecurity starts with our cell phones and very few of us understand how vulnerable we are, what the apps we download are doing on their own and what we can do to protect ourselves, but don’t because it is too much trouble.  He has toward that end created cell phone security apps available at his new company Future Tense Central.  At the moment they are only available for Android phones but IOS apps are coming soon.  The reviews from the app store are not 5 stars but this is a beginning at least.

Few people realize the prevalence and severity of cyber attacks that take place in a year.  By looking at the opening graphic, moderator Joseph A. Smith (retired US Navy currently IT Services Directorate National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency) provided,  you can see that Sony is just a blip, a small one, on the radar of attacks 2014 and 2013.

Cyber Attacks

To see a live interactive map of the worlds biggest data breaches click here.

What does it cost us?  Moderator Smith provided a graphic which showed that there was a 782% increase in on Cyber threats from 2004-2012, the annual cost is over 400 billion and most chilling half of adult Americans had their personal information exposed by hackers.  Below is the graphic which explains how much your data is worth on the open market unless, as McAfee pointed out, you’re a Getty.

What your data is sold for

Part of the problem the panelists pointed out is that we have made hackers heroes in movies and TV.  Both CSI:Cyber with Patricia Arquette and Criminal Minds tend to glamorize the role of the hacker, something that has been going on since the movie War Games.

How the hacker has become hero

As far as the film industry is concerned John McCoskey Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer of the Motion Picture Association of America pointed out that the cloud technology where editors and directors exchange the assets of movies they are working on presents a special challenge.

Sony employees reused personal passwords

Shishu Gupta Deputy Director, Office of the Chief Information Officer National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency took part in the discussion of how the company is made vulnerable by the employee.  The employee may be trained but as in the Sony scenario, may reuse a personal password or respond to a phishing email.  One in every ten phishing emails is successful in tricking recipients as he pointed out.  An officer at work who attended the ISC security convention held the same week suggested that one in tend may be the best case scenario for us that likely the phishing email succeeds more often.

How hacking has become industrialized

When I asked the panelists how best to protect themselves and their employees, the panel unanimously agreed that educating the end user like ourselves is the answer.  But this training is not an hour hello and then good bye session it must be in depth and on going because threat technologies are going to change and we must change with them.  And the industry is making strides in that direction as Gupta pointed out.  “Educational spending is rising faster than technoogy investments.”  John McCoskey agreed and said this was not true a few years ago and we are basically playing catch up.

Watch the entire Cyber Security Panel video click here. (Length 1hour Flash required.)


Jerry Lewis received the NAB Distinguished Service Award (DSA) during the opening keynote session.  The reward was in equal parts recognition for his comic genius as well as his work with the charity to eradicate Muscular Dystophy.  In the video he talks about the rewards of his tireless work on the kids who are afflicted with the disease.

Sharon Stone paying tribute to Bud Paxton

Sharon Stone and Wayne Newton honored the late Bud Paxton who passed away in January.  Paxton was founder of The Home Shopping Network and Pax TV (ION TV home of the Criminal Minds reruns).   Seen as a fierce advocate for programming diversity he was instrumental in the passage of the 1992 Cable Act, which allowed local diverse programming to stay competitive in the land of Broadcast and cable giants.  His advocacy for diversity may have come from his early days in local radio in New York and New Jersey where he first glimpsed the potential of on air sales when he tried selling can openers over the air and sold out of his entire stock in an hour.


Also recognized for his achievements in The Broadcast Industry Mel Karmazin, the former head of SiriusXM, CBS and Viacom received award at Radio Luncheon on Tuesday.  Earlier in his career he ran the Infinity Radio Group which included radio station WFAN which employed legendary DJ Don Imus, who often referred to Karmazin as “the Zen Master”, possibly for his ability to make things happen, especially radio sales.  If a station or network doesn’t sell airtime they go belly up and Karmazin would usually walk out of a room with the sale. He talked about the innovations in the field of radio broadcasting many of which he instituted as well as the NFL’s new breakthrough technology which allows you to listen to a broadcast on one device while viewing it on another.



Published on Apr 26, 2015


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