By Cassie Phillips

Every aspiring film director needs to be aware that a hacker can end their career before it ever gets really started. Hackers can be clever, relentless and unapologetic about their actions. It’s unfortunate that they use their unbelievable skills to harm people, yet this is the reality we live in. However, even the most intelligent hacker can be stopped if you take a few precautionary measures. It would be a disaster if a hacker got a hold of your film and turned it into a critical success. At that point you are left sitting on your couch wondering what you could have done to prevent the attack in the first place. You’ll want to take into consideration the following advice in order to protect yourself:

Download Security Software

One of the easiest ways to allow yourself to compromise your data is to download malware or a computer virus. There are many types of both, but as an aspiring director you are going to want to worry about a specific type called ransomware. As the name indicates, it holds the files on your computer ransom as it encrypts the data. A fee is then required for you to regain access. That being said, you should never give in. There’s no guarantee you’ll actually get it back. If you have your film stored on your computer’s hard drive and find yourself a victim, it will become inaccessible.

The question now is how does malware get installed on your PC? Typically, if you visit a malicious site then pieces of malware are automatically downloaded on your PC. The great news is that malware can be generally avoided by downloading a security suite. They can scan your computer for malicious programs and then put a firewall in place to protect you. Problems already on your computer can be removed. This will prevent anything malicious from happening to your film from these types of threats.

Download a Virtual Private Network

Just getting a security suite doesn’t keep you entirely safe from hackers. Hackers can also get to your information when you are working online. A large amount of information is transmitted when film files are uploaded. Alternatively, sensitive information is passed through email each day. If this data is lost or intercepted, you could wind up in an awful situation. The chances also vastly increase if you decide to upload your film over a public network, as public WiFi can be extremely dangerous.

Again, this is an issue that can be avoided. If you download a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can prevent data interception. A VPN will encrypt your connection to protect any files or correspondence you send (or receive) over a network. Additionally, it will hide your IP address in order to give you privacy online. There are a few VPN’s that you can download, although ExpressVPN is well-regarded. This review by Secure Thoughts will give you all of the information you need the make a better choice.

Check the Website’s Safety

This step, along with the last one, is essential if you wish to upload your film to a website for mainstream attention. Not every single website on the internet is safe, and you need to understand how to detect a malicious site. Luckily, there are quite a few great ways to do so. One way to ensure that a website is to check the protocol of the URL. If you see a URL with an HTTPS protocol, it’s most likely secure.

Another way to check (in Google Chrome specifically) is to look to the left of the URL address. If there is a lock, then it means your connection to the site is private. If you see a white piece of paper, however, it means your connection is not private.

The last way to check is to use a service to verify the link. There are many services that let you do this, and one of the best is from Norton. All you have to do is copy and paste the website’s link into Norton’s search bar and it will notify you of any security threats.

Place your Film on an External Hard Drive

As long as you follow the first three steps, you and your film should be safe. If you want to be extra cautious, though, store your film on an external hard drive. Hackers can’t attack what they aren’t connected to, and there is no way to connect to an external hard drive in a safe. Having a safe copy of your film will also protect it from accidental deletion or environmental damage.

This is a very easy task to complete. Just get an external hard drive (I would recommend a solid state drive for stability) and plug it into your computer’s USB port. Then copy or move your film data to your external hard drive. You might need to get a large one, but it’s worth the investment.

Do yourself a favor and don’t underestimate the brilliance of hackers. If you do, then you can easily find yourself and your great film in serious danger. As long as you take the proper precautions, however, you shouldn’t have to worry. Are there any other tips that you know of? What do you do to protect yourself? Please let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author: Cassie is a freelance blogger and writer who specializes in cybersecurity. She hopes that all aspiring movie developers use these tips to better protect themselves from hackers. She looks forward to the next generation of filmmaking!
@cassie_culture @securethoughtsc