When The Art Newspaper broke the story of a “cyber crime wave” crashing on gallerists and dealers around the world last week, it made me realise that there is still a lot of institutions behind the curve in terms of cyber-security. The altruistic nature of many galleries does not preclude the unscrupulous behaviour of hackers, and the Art Newspaper story brought that home (to the tune of anywhere between £10,000 to £1m).
Just a few days ago, a new Antiques Coalition study claimed that, “80 percent of the 100,000 antiquities available online at any given moment have no recorded provenance—which means they are probably looted or fake.” If collectors were to meet their prices, these dubious artifacts could command up to $10 million" (first reported in The Wall Street Journal).
So what can Cultural Institutions like these Art Galleries do to protect themselves?
1 Regularly change all passwords for email, software and wifi
2 Ensure all anti-virus software is up to date
3 Only send invoices by email if they have been encrypted (password-protected)
4 After sending or receiving an invoice by email, call and/or send a text or WhatsApp message to the recipient to double-check the sort code and account number
5 Urge all staff to be extremely vigilant when opening emails and do not download any attachments or click on web links from an untrusted source. Always confirm legitimacy over the telephone with the sender if in doubt
Good advice, courtesy of The Art Newspaper.
For galleries in the UK, introducing greater security is critical. Next May, the UK will implement new EU legislation: the General Data Protection Regulations. (The legislation will be introduced in Britain regardless of Brexit.) These require every company that stores personal data, such as clients’ email addresses, to protect it adequately. So, if your gallery’s email account is hacked because of inadequate security measures, you could be fined 4% of your annual turnover or €20m, whichever is higher. “No galleries are that aware of the impending regulation,” Lee says, adding that, for galleries, “there are huge responsibilities involved and there is a lot to do in preparation”.