09.02.2022 — our work, technology

We Need to Talk about Security in the Metaverse

Our Director of Technology draws from his experience working at Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures to explain why we need to build airtight security into our metaverse from the very start.


It takes years to build good security habits within a company, and just seconds to exploit a vulnerability and potentially destroy everything. Security is the lifeblood of an organization.

One of the major challenges for those of us who work in this space is that as technology gets more sophisticated, our security practices also need to evolve to keep up. The more we embed technology into our everyday lives, the more vulnerable we become, increasing the opportunities for bad actors to infiltrate our world and harm people and businesses alike.

Now, as the emergence of the metaverse ushers in a new era of technology, we have a unique opportunity to take security more seriously from the ground up.

Unfortunately, many companies have historically only started caring about security after something terrible happens. Some organizations think that they can defend themselves using ‘security through obscurity’—trying to protect a system by simply concealing its flaws. This only works for so long, until a weakness is discovered and at this point your company is already in trouble. There is a reason that massive media companies have been adding 0’s to their security budgets over the past decade, particularly after the infamous Sony hack in 2014, where unreleased movies and vast amounts of confidential company documents were leaked, bringing a long overdue conversation about the importance of security to the world stage.

“With security you are always doing the best you can to mitigate risk, but nothing can ever be perfect or ‘unbreakable’.”

– Bruce Edwards, Director Of Technology, Stage11

The repercussions of a single security breach can be enormous; costing time, capital and often resulting in a bruised or buried reputation. Look at the case of audio post-production service Larson Studios, who in 2016 were hacked by the international hacker organization known as The Dark Overlord. All it took was the exploitation of a single machine running an old and vulnerable operating system to inflict serious damage to their company. It only takes a small window of opportunity for a hacker to harm an organization and potentially damage its credibility forever.

The fact is, the longer you wait to take security seriously in your organization, the harder it will be to effectively mitigate risk as your company grows. If you fail to prioritize security from the very start, it is easy to foster bad habits in employees who might not understand these risks, and it becomes harder to establish strong security practices as a company grows. 

Stage11 is still small enough that we have the perfect opportunity to do the right thing the first time around: build a great security practice and set a high bar for companies in our arena. It is important to understand that with security you are always doing the best you can to mitigate risk but nothing can ever be perfect or ‘unbreakable’. Still, we need to maintain a proactive mindset when handling the work of our employees and partners.

For us, this means starting to educate our employees early on the importance of working in a secure manner and making security a core guiding principle for any technology we build. As we continue to work with artists and designers across many disciplines we need to ensure security is our priority, not just for our company’s bottom line, but also to convince our collaborators to trust us with their valuable data.

Bruce working with Stage11 CEO and Founder Jonathan Belolo and Akon at a capture session in LA.

One of the first priorities for us was to build an ecosystem of proprietary private cloud workstations for our artists. These powerful, NVIDIA-based workstations can be deployed anywhere in the world virtually, and are owned/controlled by us in isolated networks that do not have direct access to the internet. This keeps data in our secure environments only, shrinking the attack surface one might have to breach that data. This is a safe way for us to work and can provide our talent peace of mind knowing their assets are secure.

I am personally leading the security efforts across Stage11 and will always be a champion for its importance. My background from working at two of the biggest entertainment companies in the world will help guide us to ensure we’re making the best decisions the first time around when it comes to security, hopefully helping set the bar for other companies entering the metaverse. Security is truly the lifeblood of an organization.

Bruce Edwards is our Director of Technology. He is a seasoned technologist, engineer and security expert who has worked with some of the biggest entertainment companies in the world including: Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Sony Pictures, PlayStation and Columbia Pictures.

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