Cyber crime is on the rise during COVID-19 and the kids entertainment industry is particularly vulnerable, says Christine Beauchamp, the director of the Canadian Center for Cyber Security. But there are some basic things companies can do to protect themselves.
“This crisis is a goldmine for potential cyber criminals who are looking to take advantage,” says Beauchamp. “When you’re in the workplace, you have IT professionals who will shoulder the burden of a company’s cyber security. But when employees work from home, that responsibility shifts to the individual who needs to be on guard.”
Cyber-security needs to be top-of-mind for kids content companies, as the number of COVID-19-related phishing scams are on the rise, says Beauchamp. According to companies like Fortinet, being cyber safe while working remotely is also especially relevant in the entertainment industry where privacy and data protection has long been a concern—to the point where VFX studios have artists sign NDAs and don’t allow them to work from home, a practice that sparked a petition among VFX artists last month.
French distributor PGS is teaching its team about protecting themselves online, by hosting online meetings with cyber experts to educate its employees about attacks. PGS’s president and co-founder Philippe Soutter expects the number of cyber attacks across the industry to rise, and companies should be careful with what they click and set two factor authentication to counter this, he says.
Beyond educating employees of the risks, there are a number of steps kids companies and industry freelancers can take to protect themselves, and their projects from attacks, says Beauchamp.
First up, employees should keep their online professional and personal activities separate, and when possible, consider using two different computers so if either the personal or professional systems are compromised, the other is safe. Also, employers should make sure all systems and software are updated, that employees all have security software installed and ensure everyone has a strong home WiFi password, as well as a strong password for a router that is also encrypted. Most routers come with a default password that’s easy for anyone to guess, but it’s a simple process to change it, according to tech website Lifewire.
For companies sending sensitive files digitally, such as screeners or images of a new show, they should make sure it’s encrypted, says Beauchamp. And if the information is especially sensitive, then consider alternatives means of delivery, such as on a USB and couriered to a recipient’s home.
If a cyber attack happens, the first thing an individual should do is contact their IT team, says Beauchamp. They should then disconnect from WiFi or their wired home network, to stop the potential spread of any threats.
And, of course, don’t forget regular backups. Most office IT staff will handle regular backups, and it can be easy for individuals to forget to do them at home. A backup of sensitive files can ensure continuity if a personal device is attacked.
“Individuals need to be aware of the threats, and work to be cyber safe,” says Beauchamp. “As we move to work from home we all have a part to play in protecting our own, and our company’s privacy and data.”