It’s no secret the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the fragile ecosystem that we call the entertainment industry. While live-action filming has come to an almost complete standstill, as the old adage goes: the show must go on. Currently, animation is booming, post-production including video editing continues, and new ideas are hatched every day. But with creatives now forced to work from home, issues have arisen, particularly around cybersecurity.
Certainly post-production security has been a problem in the entertainment industry since, well, forever -- and much of the time it is handled by the studios or production companies themselves. Now, having your creative team unable to meet in person over lattes and scones means decision-making and collaboration is more difficult than ever. But crucial meetings such as reviewing edits, brainstorming storylines, or discussing visual concepts cannot simply be abandoned.
Many have switched to remote video conferencing, but the question remains: are these meetings really secure?
The answer lies in your computer setup, how it’s connected to the internet, and what type of meeting application is being used. Here are a handful of tips to protect your network and creative content from cyber attacks and unauthorized access. (You can thank us later.)
Tip #1: Scan your computers and drives
Truth: every computer system that has been connected to the internet is a potential carrier of malware or viruses. To make sure yours is not already compromised or infected, use antivirus software to scan your hard drives. We recommend Avast or Malwarebytes, both of which have free as well as paid options. Be sure to keep them running in the background at all times!
Tip #2: Install all software/hardware/firmware updates
We get it: you’re used to your programs or operating system and hate change. But these updates also fix any security vulnerabilities that have been found and exploited. So, always say “yes” to any and all updates (and have them set to update automatically if you can).
Tip #3: Re-configure your router
Many people don’t even think about the security of their own router/wi-fi network, which most likely is using the default password. (Right?) Instead, switch from WEP to WPA2 or 3 and restrict incoming as well as outgoing data. For a more detailed breakdown on ensuring home network security, check out securing your wireless router and wifi network from Comparitech.
Tip #4: Use a secure collaboration platform for remote work
Since most production offices are closed, you’ve got to have some way to connect securely from other locations and on personal devices. Evercast has not only been approved by all the major studios and OTT content providers, but it also offers the convenient combination of video conferencing along with HD-streaming and full-spectrum audio. That means you can stream your workflow and collaborate in real time with near zero-latency (200ms), basically imperceptible to others in the meeting. It’s perfect for collaboration on visual media as it gives everyone the ability to create time-stamped notes and even draw on the screen.
Tip #5: Never share passwords
When having a virtual meeting, make sure everyone uses their own password or code and that the room itself is secure -- no if, ands, or buts. And whenever it's available, enable two-factor authentication on your own logins. Evercast ensures all session participants are legit by allowing only the room admin to authorize access through its internal invite system -- and by default, every room is set to “private.”
Tip #6: Secure your personal workspace
Now that your computer, network, and virtual room are configured for privacy, do the same with the physical space you will be in when attending. This means it’s not a good idea to participate from your local coffee shop. Wherever you are, close doors and windows and keep your screen from being seen by nosy neighbors or roommates.
Tip #7: Encrypt recorded meetings
Recording a meeting can be beneficial for everyone involved, but now it’s a physical asset that can be stolen at any time. In Evercast, only the room admin can enable the record feature; the final recording is encrypted and stored securely. Only authorized persons can access the stream and it cannot be downloaded. (And if you aren’t running the meeting, or you’re using a different video conferencing tool, don’t use screen capture software to record.)
Tip #8: Be wary of any suspicious emails or communications
Cybercriminals are a nefariously clever breed. If they’re intent on breaking in, they’ll often do research on companies and target individuals that work there. This is sometimes known as spear phishing. Post production companies are a target for those who like to release films early online or extort them with ransomware. That’s why if you receive a personal message or email from a co-worker (or boss) who’s making an unusual request, has a suspicious link, or is asking for sensitive information like a password, follow up with a phone call to confirm it’s really them.
Tip #9: Lock your computer when you step away
This may seem paranoid, especially if you live alone, but have a lock screen on your device. Even if you do live alone, that added level of security is always with you, should you take your computer somewhere else. If you’re using Evercast, know that it automatically logs out for security purposes after 60 minutes of inactivity.
Tip #10: Do not circumvent protocols
Follow these guidelines along with any that are provided by your boss or studio as much as possible. In other words, be smart and don’t make headlines in Variety for the wrong reasons.
Cybersecurity will continue to be a pressing issue for the entertainment industry even after the Covid-19 emergency ends. Remote collaboration, however, is here to stay. The good news is that once you’re set up for remote working with malware detectors, a lock screen, auto-updates, and beyond, most of these actions will run quietly in the background, giving you some peace of mind during those crucial work sessions. Keep secure and carry on!