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Enabling secure content collaboration for remote M&E workflows

David Phillips, principal architect, M&E solutions at Cloudian writes that having a secure, cost-effective storage solution that lets employees access tools, applications and media assets from anywhere is now essential

The Covid-19 pandemic has spurred a huge increase in remote working across virtually all industries, and media and entertainment is no exception.

Media and entertainment (M&E) professionals have had to quickly adapt and have been faced with several new challenges around securely storing, sharing and accessing large collections of video, audio and image files. For example, with facilities closed and fewer people working on site, shipping tapes and hard drives is often not an option. Although the use of virtual private networks (VPN) offers an alternative, these are being stretched to their limits with the surge in remote workers. 

Faced with these challenges, M&E businesses need cost-effective storage that enables remote employees to access content from anywhere, at any time and collaborate with colleagues without putting valuable media assets at risk.

Secure content with ransomware protection and customised controls

With so much highly valuable content, security has always been a key consideration for media organisations. This is particularly true in the current climate where employees are having to rely on digital tools when working remotely, increasing the threat of attacks such as ransomware.

This presents a clear need for storage solutions that feature WORM (write once, read many) and Object Lock technologies. WORM functionality allows users to make immutable “locked” backups of their data that can’t be changed for a fixed amount of time, with Object Lock making this technology more easily accessible on enterprise storage systems.

Media organisations should also look for storage solutions that let IT managers control the physical location of data and manage access permissions via existing company authentication frameworks. Secure file sharing controls such as password-protected links with expiration dates and configurable download limits are essential for secure remote collaboration. In addition, being able to customise security and access policies for remote workers, enable two-factor authentication, complete virus scans and leverage an audit trail to search user and system activities are all key capabilities. 

Make life easy for employees 

When it comes to enabling secure collaboration, it’s vital that media organisations provide storage solutions that are easy for workers to use. For example, secure file sync-and-share applications allow remote workers to easily access files stored on network file systems back in the office without having to use complicated VPNs or expensive virtual desktops. Enabling users to access files directly from within their applications provides a level of familiarity based on solutions they likely use in their personal lives. It also alleviates the need to transfer files back and forth and minimises company data being stored on desktops. 

With file sync-and-share, field workers such as news camera people or photographers can also share content with others quickly and securely, increasing overall productivity. In addition, many of these solutions now enable cloud sync, which synchronises files and folders needed to be viewed or edited offline and also provide file access from mobile applications. This means users can find, open and share files directly from their iOS and Android mobile devices. Finally, ‘cloud copy’ features further increase security by eliminating the need to download/upload large image and video files. 

Embrace sharing links 

Large-scale media productions frequently involve a large number of staff and third-party contributors, such as graphic designers, special effects experts and producers. With so many remote collaborators, media organisations can also benefit from storage solutions that eliminate the need for expensive cloud services (which charge users each time they access a file) by providing secure sharing links.

Solutions are available that enable users to create links through which external collaborators can drop files and, where needed, restrict access to “view only” with trackable digital watermarks. Users also have the capability to revoke shared links when projects end or team members change, enabling secure collaboration without significantly increasing costs.

Business continuity has been the name of the game throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with rapidly changing circumstances necessitating new capabilities that empower organisations to operate in new ways. For the M&E industry, having a secure, cost-effective storage solution that lets employees access tools, applications and media assets from anywhere is now essential.