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Data Storage Security Television The Courts IT

'Zodiac Island' Makers Say ISP Worker Wiped an Entire Season 228

Posted by timothy
from the when-backup-day-comes-too-late dept.
itwbennett writes "The creators of 'Zodiac Island' say they lost an entire season of their syndicated children's television show after a former employee at their Internet service provider wiped out more than 300GB of video files. eR1 World Network, the show's creator, is suing the ISP, CyberLynk of Franklin, Wisconsin, and its former employee, Michael Jewson, for damages, saying CyberLynk should have done a better job of protecting its data."
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'Zodiac Island' Makers Say ISP Worker Wiped an Entire Season

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  • Backups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:38AM (#35686068)

    This is why you need them.

    • Torrents (Score:5, Funny)

      by White Flame (1074973) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:44AM (#35686086)

      They preserve culture.

    • Re:Backups (Score:5, Informative)

      by bmo (77928) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:47AM (#35686108)

      "Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)" - Torvalds, Linus (1996-07-20)

      --
      BMO

      • Re:Backups (Score:4, Funny)

        by White Flame (1074973) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:55AM (#35686170)

        Good thing Torvalds never used CyberLynk's FTP hosting.

        • It's the mirroring part that provides the safety net. In fact, if you're using an ISP that doesn't state explicitly in their ToS that backups are your responsibility and that any backups they provide are a best-effort courtesy service then find yourself an ISP that'll still be in business in six months to move to. Yes, I've worked in the ISP and hosting biz. I have for over a decade, and I now work for one of the big boys.

          • by rjstanford (69735)

            Only if done correctly (and your mirrors have backups). But really, how often do you back up that which you're mirroring? Pretty much never, if you're most people. And if the source deletes a file, generally all the mirrors do as well... Backups are still needed to help protect you against yourself.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        Good idea: I bet they can download their show back from a torrent :p

        (yeah, lossy compression...)

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        He shut up about that pretty quickly after he lost linux kernel 3.0 years back.

    • It sounds like their ISP was supposed to do that. I've nothing wrong with paying other companies to do something for you. Not every company has the resources to do everything. You outsource things to experts. However that means you presume they do it right, and do what they say. The ISP said "Ya no problem we back this up." And then it turned out they didn't.

      • by Cylix (55374) *

        It's fairly common practice to keep the raw video in case you need to do something with it. It's generally higher quality, free from effects and can be remixed as needed. In the event the finished product is wiped out then the show can be reproduced at some cost.

        With one of the previous companies I was with we spent so little on technology that it wasn't uncommon to lose the primary file server. Eventually, after the third or fourth reload plus reproducing they eventually opted to invest in some backup tech

        • Re:In their defense (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2011 @08:01AM (#35687242)

          It's fairly common practice to keep the raw video in case you need to do something with it. It's generally higher quality, free from effects and can be remixed as needed. In the event the finished product is wiped out then the show can be reproduced at some cost.

          RTFA. This was not yet a finished product. They were files that had been passed back and forth between artist/animators/etc for the last 2 years while developing the show. It was a remote, collaborative effort that was still ongoing. So these were essentially the unfinished source files that got lost. The article says that while 300GB were wiped, they only permanently lost 65GB of data. I'm assuming the other 235GB were files that the various contributors still had their own local copies of.

      • Mod parent up; someone read the article. This is exactly on point to why this will be settled out of court with a couple million exchanging hands, and A LOT of the ISP staff will be terminated for not doing their jobs. Plus, there's the PR stuff to reassure customers, dealing with those that lost non-essential data, and of course, the loss of customers who will simply exit and go somewhere else. The worse thing this could have done was make it to a lawsuit.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      You mean like the backups that a company might pay an ISP to make?
      As was the case in this story, according to TFA.

    • by Kentari (1265084)
      That'll teach them to wait until 'Backup Day' to make them...
    • Re:Backups (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday April 01, 2011 @07:23AM (#35687094) Journal

      The sad part is if you read TFA (I know, but I got bored) then you'll see they paid for backups as part of their service agreement but the ISP lied and hadn't actually bothered to back up shit.

      Now considering how we have a "fuck everything but the quarterly earnings report!" attitude going on in businesses right now I have to wonder: How widespread is this? After all backup and the tapes or HDDs to put them on cost a pretty penny, so not actually spending that money makes your bottom line look good, at the same time saying you have a backup solution (which you charge extra for) is equally good for your bottom line.

      Now considering the fact that if these clowns would have followed best practices and changed the passwords when they fired this guy they probably STILL be getting away with charging for a service they don't actually have to incur the expense of actually providing I have to wonder, how many others are doing the same right now? I mean how many are actually gonna set up a test to see if their hosting company has the backups they say?

      It sounds to me like backup services are just one more way to cut expenses while making extra money, and sounds like it is ripe for abuse like in TFA.

    • This is why you need them.

      Also, if your 320gig worth of invaluable childrens' TV show only exists on your ISPs servers, you should jump out of a high window right now because you are too stupid to live. A 320gig portable hard drive can be had at newegg for about fifty bucks. Less if you keep an eye on woot. How stupid can you be? When you edited those shows, did you wipe all your hard drives afterward? How in the hell can your only copies be on your ISP's servers?

  • by erice (13380) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:45AM (#35686096) Homepage
    I guess they didn't hear that it was World Backup Day [slashdot.org]
    • by toastar (573882) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:46AM (#35686106)
      Who's fucking idea was it to make April fools day World Backup day?
    • TFA is very clear about this: the ISP was responsible for making backups, and failed to do so.
      • by erice (13380)

        TFA is very clear about this: the ISP was responsible for making backups, and failed to do so.

        Yes, but anyone who relies on ISP backups for important data, on an ftp site, no less, is an idiot. The only way this story makes any sense is if all they managed to trash all their local copies, including backups (if any), and then looked to the ftp site as a backup of last resort. The ftp site files were almost certainly not in condition to broadcast. Their loss means that the creators can blame someone else for the screwup and not have to redo all their work.

        • Yes, but anyone who relies on ISP backups for important data, on an ftp site, no less, is an idiot.

          The only way this story makes any sense is if all they managed to trash all their local copies, including backups (if any), and then looked to the ftp site as a backup of last resort. The ftp site files were almost certainly not in condition to broadcast. Their loss means that the creators can blame someone else for the screwup and not have to redo all their work.

          A cheap idiot at that. We're talking about 300Gb of data. I'm guessing a production company can cough up 50 bucks for an external 500Gb hard drive. They might have even have had enough left over to splash out on a second one.

        • I think you're being a little judgmental there. We don't know what kind of contract terms they had with the ISP; from TFA it sounds like CyberLynk was providing a full data-hosting solution, and that's why there weren't good local copies: they expected the ISP to provide that. This was a collaboration server, remember, so no one group necessarily ever had a full copy of all the source materials. I agree that, given the size of the materials, it should have been trivial for each group to keep a full copy, bu
          • by evanism (600676)

            come on, even my blessed 93 year old grandmother knows how to back up her work off the computer - and she certainly doesnt trust a company to do what you pay for!

            Right about the post-firing rampage, as a multitime CTO, it was my worst nightmare after letting people go. Security is good to have, but trust is mandatory.

            btw, love the regex :)

          • I believe you should be able to pay for that, too. But suing someone because they say "we backup our servers" and you think that means they guarantee 100% data retention is just the worst kind of careless oversight. If you find the ISP's website as I did and read the description of services and the ToS, there's no way an informed consumer would believe they are getting 100% guaranteed data backup. The company disclaims even being fit for use for any particular purpose.

        • by bjourne (1034822)
          They had to rely on someone. If you want to renovate your bathroom and you don't know how, then you have to rely on a craftsman to do a proper job. If you are an ISP which provides backup services and you don't do any, you're not doing your job. The whole point of a specialized economy is that you shouldn't have to be an expert on everything to get any job done. Most people are not, and should not have to be, experts on all the technical and procedural problems which you need to understand to run a proper b
      • by cgenman (325138)

        If you're relying upon the ISP to have backups, you don't have backups. What if that ISP goes under? Gets hit with a flood? Servers locked up by an FBI investigation? Or, as in this case, an employee goes on a deleting rampage?

        Don't just backup your data. Backup your providers. Backups are about redundancy.

        And never personally verifying that the ISP had backups? They might as well have used prayer as a data-protection methodology.

        • To be honest, when I read that part of the article, it sounds more like CyberLynk is trying to cover up more problematic employees.

          But let's not kid ourselves. We need to backup the backups! Backup the providers' backups! Backup the providers' backups' providers! Let the madness never end!

          To be honest, I somewhat doubt they had the money to carry it that far, though.
      • The article its not very clear on that at all. It says they were supposed to back up the server. It doesn't say they were statutorily required to do so. It does not say they were contractually required to do so. It does not say they were required to successfully store the backup copies. It does not say they were required to perform a flawless recovery. It doesn't say what penalties for nonperformance or guarantee of service there would be.

        I just read the ToS on the company's web site. It is suspicious that

        • by Entrope (68843)

          Standard form disclaimers like the one you quote are typically superseded by the agreements that are specific to the relationship in question. If a customer pays extra for backups, judges tend to be unsympathetic if the vendor tries to weasel out by the kind of argument you suggested ("we never promised we could RESTORE backups! and we told them it was at their own risk!"). Otherwise the additional agreement and charge for the backups gets the customer nothing but a bill of goods.

          The show's creators real

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Backup Day should come once a week.

      And even that might be too little.

  • How ironic: http://www.worldbackupday.net/ [worldbackupday.net]

  • Did these video just magically appear on the server or where they uploaded to the server after they were created somewhere else?

    • From TFA:

      The lost data included an entire season of "Zodiac Island" -- 6,480 files -- that was stored on a CyberLynk FTP server. The show's producers had been using the server for nearly a year as a drop box where contributors from the U.S., Manila, Beijing and Hong Kong could collaborate on episodes.

      CyberLynk was supposed to have backed up the data, but CEO Adam Hobach told WeR1 that his company's backup procedure "had failed and/or was not properly instituted," WeR1 said in a lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.

      • We need a mantra to inextricably link restoration testing with "backing up".

      • Probably the worker saw the FTP server full of copyrighted movies, and thought "better wipe them before we get any legal trouble; to be sure, better also delete the backups." :-)

  • This is the 21st century and some people still haven't wrapped their heads around proper safeguarding of data.

    It sucks to be them, but it's their own responsibility to make sure their data is replicated on as many devices in as many places as is convenient and affordable to do so.

    • by Per Wigren (5315)
      That depends. It really should be possible to outsource that to another company, like this "ISP" for example, and then leave it up to them to keep your data safe. After all that's what you pay for. I don't know the details of the service they offered though, maybe it was a cheap "Here is a network drive. Use it however you want but don't expect anything." kind of service. In that case you're correct. However, if it was a premium "Trust us, we take care of your data!" kind of service then it's another thing.
    • Re:This is (Score:4, Informative)

      by martin-boundary (547041) on Friday April 01, 2011 @04:27AM (#35686472)
      That's easy to say, but the trend is the other way. How many people here on slashdot even use gmail as their primary email provider and don't ever back up the messages?

      You might say it's not the same thing, but it's not so different for a company to keep some of their most valuable assets in the cloud in one place, and for a person to keep some of their most valuable communications and contacts in the cloud in one place.

      If something is valuable, never trust it wholly to the cloud.

    • This is the 21st century and some people still haven't wrapped their heads around proper safeguarding of data.

      It sucks to be them, but it's their own responsibility to make sure their data is replicated on as many devices in as many places as is convenient and affordable to do so.

      This is the 21st century and some people still haven't wrapped their heads around proper safeguarding of data.

      It sucks to be them, but it's their own responsibility to make sure their data is replicated on as many devices in as many places as is convenient and affordable to do so.

      Agreed. At the end of the day, you're responsible for your own property. Particularly when it's something irreplaceable like your own work, you can't rely on someone else, even if that's the whole point of their business. People screw up things all the time, and even if you can sue them, you're still screwed out of your work.

      I wonder how much was really lost. Surely they don't just make the video, upload it, and then delete all the stuff they used produce it?

      • It depends on how good your lawyer is.

        If he/she can convince the jury that your work is worth millions of dollars, then it might be worth having it destroyed so you can sue the storage company.

  • If the show is any good, I might have a copy on my harddisk..

    Hmmm? You mean it's not about the new My Little Pony show?

    Well try this then: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=%22zodiac+island%22+torrent [lmgtfy.com]

  • Backup is a very big word, guys.
    I mean, haven't you any other copy?
    Who designed your production processes, Pinocchio?
    Information technology is not just a bulb light that just works by plugging it in. It's (just a little bit) more complicated and yet (much) more powerful.
    Shame on you, then!
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Friday April 01, 2011 @02:52AM (#35686146) Homepage
    Story post time is officially Apr. 1.... it's /. hell day...
  • Sure, 300GB is a lot of data, but it's not *that* much data. We're talking about TWO FREAKING YEARS worth of work from multiple companies and NOBODY had enough sense to back the whole thing up offline?? $50 at Fry's would easily buy you a terabyte drive. Forget the ISP, it's a total FAIL on the part of all involved I'd say.

    • by Barryke (772876)

      To be fair, it was used as a dropbox to collaborate on new material.

      I expect that material changes every day, so doing this in situ seems like a wise thing to do. They paid that company to take care of that.
      This is a fair deal.

      Now for recoverability; i expect each of those collaborators didn't lose their most recent product, and as such that the entire contents is not lost. Perhaps some temporary files/videoedits that nobody really needs anymore.

      And seriously, since when is 300GB enough to do video collabor

  • by Ecuador (740021) on Friday April 01, 2011 @03:18AM (#35686260) Homepage

    It was an off-site FTP server for collaboration, are they telling us none of the collaborators had the full set of data? It was "just" 300GB, meaning it could fit easily on an average hard drive.
    Furthermore, they say they require all the data to reconstitute the episodes, so every time they needed the episodes, they would download all those 300GB of 6000+ files from FTP and rebuild their episodes? What kind of idiocy is this.
    And lastly, did that employee secure erase everything? It was more than a simple rm -rf ?

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Furthermore, they say they require all the data to reconstitute the episodes, so every time they needed the episodes, they would download all those 300GB of 6000+ files from FTP and rebuild their episodes? What kind of idiocy is this.

      If it is the work of a company doing effects that is missing, it's not unreasonable that there are scenes missing from all episodes. If this is a work in production, the other companies could have simple placeholders or simply worked on their own scenes. I don't know how they split the work, but it's not unreasonable that nobody has the latest work of everyone as they work in parallel.

  • I have been in a situation like this, though definitely not of the same magnitude. I lost an entire year's worth of work on a non-profit site I was working on. I was under the impression that backups were being made.

    I had written a simple shell script to connect to the server and backup my SQL data and other files. The problem was I hadn't run it since I started the site. Who do I blame? Me.

    The funny thing is that I tend to backup religiously, but for some reason didn't backup the site's database. You

  • From the show website: "The stories of the twelve Kids of Zodiac Island share family values of loving, respect, and ethical behavior while learning to enjoy Nature. The loving, joyful Zodiac Kids are role models for children across the globe, and help everyone realize we are all peaceful, loving, happy beings."

    So... nothing of value was lost? Sounds anvilicious to me.

    http://www.zodiacisland.com/characters/index.html [zodiacisland.com] -- IT BURNSES ME! Really, children deserve better than that.
  • .. that weren't being done ; a lot of management just don't want to hear that they have to actually spend money on hardware and staff to run it. Instead, squash the problem by removing that squeaky cog.

    And then he made his point rather more obvious.

    Just speculatin'

  • Obligatory pun: This is what happens when you store data into the cloud. It evaporates!
  • The rules (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Friday April 01, 2011 @04:00AM (#35686410) Homepage

    Rule 1, if you upload it to your ISP, keep a backup.

    Rule 2, if they say they keep backups, keep a backup, theirs may not be very good.

    Rule number 3, if they agree contracturally to make full backups, keep one of your own. They don't care as much about your stuff as you do and they probably have a get out of jail free clause buried somewhere in the fine print.

  • isn't today or yesterday or whatever national back up day? Ironic, Dontcha think?
  • The company is "seeking restoration and restitution for all damages and destruction of our proprietary materials," WeR1 CEO Ingrid Wang said Thursday in an e-mail message.

    Good luck with that. Backups are sort of like buying fire insurance aren't they? They seem like a separate service to purchase, aside from ftp hosting. Like in case something inane occurs, like for when the ftp-hosting ISP's cheap labor (allegedly) effects disks with circumstances of disgruntlement.

  • ... employee's accounts immediately upon termination? Kind of a moronic oversight.
    • Afaict that is easy enough to do with "regular" users but much harder with sysdmins (and at a hosting provider a large proportion of the employees are probablly sysadmins of some sort). They tend to know passwords that are poorly documented and/or shared. A disgruntled admin may even go as far as creating extra accounts specifically for the purpose of maintaining access after they are fired.

  • by TRRosen (720617) on Friday April 01, 2011 @07:52AM (#35687216)

    3 copies
    2 mediums
    1 offsite

    PS stop talking about 'the cloud" like it exists. It's only an abstract concept. Everything is on a real piece of hardware that will fail and controlled by a human that will f*ck up.

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Friday April 01, 2011 @08:46AM (#35687588) Homepage

    And people wonder why fired IT workers are escorted to the door without being allowed to go back to their desks. All it takes is one idiot to make the rest of the company completely paranoid from that point forward. First rule of IT Staffing: When someone leaves...make sure their access leaves with them. The lack of backups however is inexcusable.

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