The risk to our personal data has increased exponentially over the last few years, and all businesses are at risk, including those in the creative sector. Photographers may feel as though they’re immune to the risks because they’re not handling sensitive information or documents as part of their job, but that’s not the case. In fact, depending on the type of photography work you do, you could be more at risk that you realize — journalists, for example, face higher security risks and could be leaving themselves open to cyberattacks by avoiding the issue.
Cybersecurity continues to dictate how we operate online, and for both consumers and business owners, it’s something that informs our processes to mitigate privacy concerns and data breaches. The uncertainty of losing control of data and work can leave a photographer vulnerable, so taking precautions is essential — here’s how. Cover Photo by Markus Spiske
Identify your assets
The first step in any cybersecurity strategy is to identify what you need to protect, and the risks associated with each of them. It should be the foundation of your processes, because unless you understand what needs to be protected and to what extent, you’re always at risk of missing vital elements.
Image source: Photo by Will Porada
Choose the right tools
Since cyberattacks have increased, it’s become increasingly important that photographers innovate and look to new technologies to protect themselves and their clients. Investments into cybersecurity businesses exceeded $20bn in 2021, a massive increase on previous records, showing that more pressure is being placed on companies to protect their assets from hackers and data theft.
Photographers should consult with experts in the field as well as doing their own research, not only to know the risks and stay educated, but also to understand how the technology involved in protecting data is evolving. As one leading cybersecurity company explains, as the threat landscape is constantly evolving, ‘it’s important to ensure that detection capabilities keep up pace’.
Protect your systems
Photographers don’t just have their images to protect, but also client data, account details for invoicing and more. Anti-virus software, phishing protection and multi-factor authentication systems should all be in place to detect and protect against harmful activity before any damage is done.
This gives photographers the chance to respond quicker to a threat without impeding their productivity, as well as making it easier to recover swiftly and with as minimal interruption as possible.
Image source: Photo by Ed Hardie
Review social channels
Social media marketing is critical for any creative or small business owner to grow a venture, and for photographers, the visual aspect of platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are perfect. But the information you put out into the world needs to be carefully considered, because details like locations and personal information can be used to track individuals down and steal their data and even steal identities.
So, do an audit of the information you’re releasing. For example, is your location public? Do you have photos of your home, or are you sharing private information with sources or clients? Is your date of birth visible to the public? And are your privacy settings set properly to keep anything you publish protected? Be aware that privacy protocols on social media change regularly as software changes, so keep monitoring them regularly so you can stay in control of what’s visible to the public.
Know what metadata is being shared
When you share your images, you could inadvertently be sharing data you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Pay attention to the metadata being shared, as it might include times, location or addresses, contact details and more. The background details of photos can be a threat to your privacy, but there is software you can use to modify most types of metadata within image files. You can also use Photoshop’s ‘Save for Web and Devices’ option to change the metadata to none.
Be mindful of phishing and spearfishing attempts
Phishing is a common threat to businesses, and it can catch out freelancers who may be juggling numerous clients and not paying close enough attention to requests of bank details or similar information.
Make sure that you’re always on the lookout for unusual emails, such as those requesting passwords and logins, personal information or bank details, and verify the sender before handing over the information. Likewise, if you receive an email with an attachment, make sure you check with the sender that they did attach a file to the email to double-check that it’s safe to open.
Set up a routine
Having a routine in place can make it easier to remember to tick all the checkboxes when it comes to security. From taking photos off your cameras and cards to uploading them to secure hard-drives or the cloud, by getting into the habit of creating a regular system, you’ll know that you’ve done all you can to protect your work. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of encrypting your photos the moment you put them onto your computer, so that if you lose control of the computer, an attacker won’t be able to recover them without your password.
Aside from these basics, it’s also important that photographers assess the risks and take appropriate action, whether that’s protecting the equipment they carry, the type of photos on devices that could put photographers more at risk or the environment in which they’re working. Just as in our everyday lives, online security needs to be a part of any business owner’s daily routine, so make the effort to make these steps part of the usual workflow rather than an occasional step, to keep your photography business secure.