As an artist in 2023, you’re likely looking to create new mediums and make money in the process. One format you may explore is the digital realm, where you can create unique pieces online and sell them on your website. You may also be looking into working with NFTs and other emerging technologies.
However, the point of selling your work online and having a digital presence is to share your portfolio and improve customer relations, not hamper them. If you’re ever the victim of data loss and your customer’s info is stolen or lost, they may lose faith in your business and move on to someone else. That’s why you should put the proper cybersecurity considerations in place to protect your work and your clients. Today we’ll talk about some scams impacting the art community and tips you can use to avoid data loss.
The best way to fight off and protect yourself against rampant cybersecurity scams and issues is to be well-versed in what currently impacts artists like yourself.
One tactic that hackers try is emailing you directly or reaching out on social media with promises of a great product or service. For instance, currently, there are issues with hackers targeting digital artists by making a fake persona or pretending to work at an existing software company and then offering a free trial of a digital editing program or other promising product. The problem is that installing the program can steal your system information, usernames and passwords, and money from your cryptocurrency wallet.
Other hackers target those working in NFTs and other emerging markets because they know the artists may not be as well versed in the potential threats. Some victims are being targeted by criminals who pretend to work at art galleries. These scammers send a link for the artist to upload their work for the show. However, clicking the link can unleash malware or provide a connection to the artist’s computer so the criminal can steal the data. Be aware of anything that seems too good to be true, and do your research before clicking links or opening emails.
A threat that should certainly be on your radar is ransomware attacks. This is when a cybercriminal sends you a phishing email or hacks into your system. Then they install malware that allows them to take over. Once they’re in your email or gain control of your social media, they can delete all of your work, impersonate you, and damage your reputation. Worst of all, they won’t relinquish control until you pay them a ransom, and even then, it’s not guaranteed.
You can protect against ransomware by adding complex passwords on all your accounts and platforms and a secondary form of two-factor authentication, such as a biometric scan or a code sent to your phone. Once your business really starts ramping up, you can purchase cyberinsurance. If a breach does occur, the insurance company will help you to secure your business and cover some of the costs if you’re sued or have other financial strains.
While hackers have plenty of tricks that they’ll try to get your data, sometimes, you may lose artwork or customer information through human error, so you must be proactive with your security. Some common causes of data loss can be accidental, such as when you delete files or folders without realizing it and then purge your system, and it’s gone forever. There’s also the possibility that your computer could crash or your thumb drive stops functioning, and you can’t recover the data.
The key is to be proactive and have a risk management plan. Start by obtaining an extra backup server and send your saved data daily. If your art or information is accidentally deleted, you can go right to the backup and be back in action within minutes. Another idea is to look into a cloud server. The cloud automatically uploads your data to an external server. In addition to restoring what you lost, you can access that information from anywhere you may be working, so you can get it at home and the art gallery. At a minimum, save what you can into Google Drive for quick and easy data protection.
As your art business expands, you may need to hire staff to help you manage the company. However, while having more hands on deck is helpful, there’s also an increased chance that data could be lost or someone would have a weak password. If you reach this point, then one of your cybersecurity priorities should be implementing a zero-trust policy. This is a verification process that ensures that only authorized people and no one else can get into your system. To make this work, you need to be aware of everyone who currently has access. You also need to pay attention to when threats may occur, so you can tighten security if necessary.
Ensure that everyone on your team knows the potential threats and knows how to reach you if they see something suspicious. Also, stay on top of when employees come and go. If you have to let someone on your team go, eliminate their access immediately, so they cannot get back in after the fact.
You must always prepare for the possibility that a hacker or criminal may be able to get past your defenses and steal your work. So protect it with a digital watermark. A watermark is a digital deterrent against theft, and it discourages unlawful distribution. If someone buys your art legally, the watermark can easily be removed. This is a great idea because even if a hacker can get into your system, they may be discouraged from stealing if they can’t remove the mark.
You’ve worked so hard for years to perfect your art and transition to the digital realm, so don’t let it slip away due to a lack of cybersecurity. Add these tips to your arsenal now, and you can continue to create without worry.
Katie Brenneman specializes in content for a variety of genres. When she isn’t writing, Katie enjoys reading or hiking with her dog, Charlie. You can find her on Twitter.
Fusion Art, LLC
Santa Fe, NM