The world of pop culture was hit with its fair share of disasters in 2019. While they might not be disasters at the scale of hurricanes, floods or cyberattacks, each caused disruptions that earned national attention. And there are lessons in resilience to be learned from each one of them.
Here’s a look at this year’s biggest pop culture disasters, in no particular order.
- Top NFL quarterbacks injured
Who would’ve predicted we’d see five star quarterbacks go down with injuries – six, if you count Andrew Luck’s early retirement – in the beginning of the 2019 NFL season?
Capturing the Lombardi Trophy takes a team effort but making a run at Super Bowl glory is a lot easier if you have a franchise quarterback leading the way.
Some of these teams were smart enough to plan for the possibility of their starter going down by having a quality backup QB in place. Others, however, were not so lucky.
IT takeaway: Disasters happen. Sometimes they’re minor. Sometimes they’re catastrophic. But they’re a part of business – and life – nonetheless. The best way to ensure your business can withstand any disaster is to have a reliable back up in place. It might be housing your data in a colocation center for geographic diversity in case your office is hit by a storm, or having workplace recovery so your employees have a physical place they can work out of in the face of an unexpected disruption.
Implementing a proper DR plan can mean the difference between surviving the storm and shutting down shop.
- Starbucks cup ends up in “Game of Thrones”
There’s always something to talk about with “Game of Thrones.” There are dragons and white walkers and epic characters jockeying for power in the medieval world of Westeros. But in the final season of HBO’s hit drama, there was something else that had everyone buzzing: a Starbucks cup.
Despite the massive budget, the huge crew on set, and the countless hours in the editing room, this single Starbucks cup somehow managed to find its way into the final cut of a scene for all the world to see. The producers said this was a “genuine mistake,” but it sure gave us a “latte” talk about.
IT takeaway: Having a DR plan doesn’t mean you’re resilient unless you’re constantly updating and testing it. Environments are constantly changing, and new technologies are introduced frequently. You need to stay on top of these developments and make sure you’re adjusting your plan accordingly. Regularly test, audit and assess your systems. It’s better to find the out-of-place coffee cup before you need to execute your plan, or else it could become an embarrassing oversight.
- ‘Storm Area 51’ fails
It was meant to be a joke. But this faux call to action turned into an unexpected movement.
Over one million people signed up for the Facebook event to “Storm Area 51.” Together, they planned to rush the classified Air Force facility in search of extraterrestrials.
This wave of enthusiasm attracted the attention of the U.S. military, which started monitoring the situation. Even the event’s creator, Matty Roberts, began actively discouraging folks from charging the facility.
In the end, all the hubbub was for naught, as only 40 people showed up, and they were quickly turned away by the authorities. While the crisis was averted, this could’ve turned out much worse.
IT takeaway: The biggest failure here wasn’t that only 40 people turned up. It was that Roberts wasn’t prepared for the plan to take off like it did. Acting without thinking about the impending consequences is a huge problem – and something organizations do all the time.
One example is when organizations make the move to the cloud even when their environment isn’t ready, or it isn’t a fit for some applications. They’re so quick to take advantage of new technology, they don’t consider the full implications of the journey ahead. Without proper planning, you’ll likely create more problems than solutions.
- Jack Dorsey’s Twitter account hacked
Being the CEO of Twitter is a good look. Being the CEO of Twitter and getting your Twitter account hacked? Not so much.
But that’s what happened to Jack Dorsey, whose account was hacked back in late August. One of the more interesting parts of this story is how he was hacked – the bad actors used text messages to send the tweets.
The hacker or hackers didn’t actually gain access to Dorsey’s Twitter account. They made Twitter’s systems believe they had Dorsey’s phone and were attempting to text tweets to his account. According to Twitter: “The phone number associated with the account was compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider. This allowed an unauthorized person to send tweets via text message from the phone number. That issue is now resolved.”
Twitter had been warned about this possible vulnerability, but repeatedly claimed it wasn’t an issue. It’s clear that’s not the case.
IT takeaway: You need to make sure you’re addressing known weaknesses. A good place to start is by examining your legacy IT. Older software and applications can leave you more susceptible to hackers because they don’t undergo the same regular security updates that newer models do. The same goes for hardware. Older laptops and desktops don’t always support the newer security measures and updates.
You also need to be aware of third-party risk. While it might be a stretch to call Twitter and the carrier “partners,” this situation goes to show that your security is only as good as the partners you work with – even if you believe your security is buttoned up.
If your company has known vulnerabilities, it’s time to stop sitting idly by and do something about it.
- Woodstock 50 canceled
Woodstock 50 was supposed to be a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the original concert. Unfortunately, it never happened.
After dealing with one setback after another, including multiple venue changes, headliners dropping out, financial problems, and the failure to obtain the necessary permits, organizers canceled the event.
IT takeaway: You’re only as strong as your weakest link. It begins with communication. Make sure your employees know their roles and responsibilities ahead of any disaster. Train them, test them regularly and make sure they know what they should be doing in the face of a crisis. To achieve a successful disaster recovery everyone needs to be on the same page. If they aren’t, the show will not go on.
Past mistakes allow for 20/20 vision in the year ahead
The pop culture disasters of 2019 weren’t earth-shattering, but they weren’t insignificant, either. If anything, they should be a reminder that no matter how prepared you think you are, incidents like these do happen. So instead of letting these stories roll off your shoulders, take this opportunity to do a bit of self-scouting.
Look over your organization, check for any vulnerabilities and shore up any potential loose ends. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from these incidents. Make sure you’re paying attention.