Dangerous Signals: Cybersecurity for the Music Devotee

Computer Security: It Affects Music, Too

Love music? Be careful out there.

The following guest post comes from Cassie Phillips of Secure Thoughts, a company focused on ever-changing security threats and concerns online. 

The internet is dangerous, and music lovers certainly don’t have it any easier than anyone else. Torrenting has turned the internet into a wild west, and laws and ethics simply haven’t caught up to where the industry is. Streaming services pop up left and right, but it’s difficult to determine exactly where they are going. The internet has also allowed artists to come into their own, but theirs is one voice in a crowd of a million hopefuls, and getting noticed is a completely different game than honing your craft.  Your efforts and assets must be protected.

Chances are no one is going to hack your music collection or recordings from your hard drive, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t in danger. Your music might be valuable to some, and if hackers see an opportunity, they’ll take it or corrupt it. Others might try to take advantage of you and your musical hopes to try to scam you.

Here are some of the basic things you need to know:

Basic Procedures and Habits

While there are some special considerations those interested in music should have while using the internet, the same basic procedures still apply to them just like everyone else.  You’ve heard of most of these before elsewhere, but double-check to make sure that you’re doing the following:

  • Make sure that you are updating your system and programs as soon as you can. Many patches and updates are focused on security, and hackers will often take advantage of the gap in time between a patch release and a patch installation to wreak some havoc.
  • You need an online security suite to fight off malware and provide a firewall. There are no exceptions.
  • Use strong passwords and verification measures. Use a mix of characters and make sure no one can guess it. Perhaps the only people who have any business with your online accounts are your spouse and maybe other family members.
  • Be generally careful when browsing online. Don’t click on links you are unsure of.
  • Keep your devices safe. Smartphones are often stolen, and they can contain a lot of information both related and unrelated to your musical ambitions.
  • While there is more to cybersecurity, do make sure to start here to simply have a safe experience online in general.

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

The one universal rule of the internet (and perhaps aspects of the physical world) is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everyone has an agenda (think about why you are online), and many agendas involve tricking you into giving up your information or data. You need to make sure that you don’t fall victim to music-related scams.

If anyone is offering you free music or services, ask why they would be doing so. Ask yourself how the service is making a profit. It is quite possible that the reason they can afford to help you is that they’re stealing your information on the side or barely paying the artist (perhaps not even paying the artist at all).

Additionally, there is a debate about whether torrenting is good for the music industry, but in terms of cybersecurity, we can skip over those debates simply to talk about the fact that it is extremely dangerous. Do torrenting websites look safe to you? They’re often riddled with malware that will take your devices down quickly, and there might be tracking involved that can prove dangerous. Be extremely careful when using them in the event that you do.

Out in the World

Thanks to mobile devices, the digital music world can travel with you when you leave your home. Not only can you bring your tunes with you and play them, but it is now possible to stream music online via services such as Spotify or Tidal. You might also have other subscription services that you hold to be quite valuable.

Unfortunately, those accounts can be put in danger while you are using public networks in an attempt to save on your data plan (music can use its fair share of data).  Hackers will often sit on those networks in order to intercept either your account information or work.  There is a good chance that they’ll effectively be able to see what’s on your screen.  This can lead to all sorts of problems.

Something you might want to consider is using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) while you are traveling.  It is a service that connects your device (smartphone or computer) to an offsite secure server and encrypts that connection.  This will protect you on public networks from anyone hoping to take a look.

Additionally, it will protect you from anyone trying to track you as your IP address will be hidden.  If you’re curious about what options are available to you in the crowded VPN market, you’ll want to check out this review by Secure Thoughts.

Protect Your Work

Whether you work in the music industry, simply collect it or write about it frequently, you don’t want to have your work compromised by cybercriminals.  Instead of just trying to avoid danger online, you should take active steps to protect it.

Try to take the following into consideration:

  • Find and use a backup method (perhaps use multiple methods) for the music you own. You will likely want to keep an external hard drive in a safe location in the event of a computer crash, and a cloud storage solution such as Dropbox might prove more useful to others. Just make sure that you update it frequently, or your recent efforts will be for naught.
  • Share your files as rarely as possible. Even if you trust someone, their cybersecurity plan might not be as solid as yours. If they get attacked, you could be affected.

Everything is Interconnected

This might be a general principle of the internet, but you should note that it also applies to cybersecurity as well. If you’re going to use your email account to sign up for various accounts and services online, make sure that email account is protected by every measure you can find. If it gets compromised, you can probably consider yourself a victim of identity theft, and it’ll be
difficult to regain control of your musical life.

Whenever you make a decision online, take a quick moment to consider how your listening decisions might affect the rest of your online life. Will a specific service you use prove to be a risk that monitors your usage in the long run? Think for both the long-term and the short-term in order to reduce your risk.

Do what you love, and follow wherever your listening passions take you in this digital age of music, but make sure to watch your step.  Cybercriminals only hope to steal what’s rightfully yours and put down your day. Keep the above in mind, and make sure that you’re living a secure life. Stay on top of the threats instead of becoming another victim.

 

Do you have any other thoughts as to how to be safer as you scour the internet for music or try to build your following online? Do you have any concerns or experiences you would like to share with the community? If so, please let us know your thoughts and leave your thoughtful comment below.

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