Employing blockchain in art is a novel narrative of technology meeting creativity.
How Does Blockchain Work?
Blockchain is a system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system. Each block in the chain contains a number of transactions, and every time a new transaction occurs on the blockchain, a record of that transaction is added to every participant’s ledger.
Blockchain in The Art Industry
Storing information on blockchain’s digital ledger can democratize both, art and commerce, for artists and buyers all around the world.
Museums across the world are already implementing technology in their infrastructure in some way or the other. From digitizing images done by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to blending Van Gogh and virtual reality in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, technology is booming in the field of art.
Benefits of Blockchain in The Art Industry
Here are some ways in which the blockchain technology can eliminate the obstacles mentioned above:
Security with Cryptographic Tokens
Blockchain technology involves the saving of critical data on blocks that can be accessed using cryptographic keys only. Artists can enroll themselves in art registries that use blockchain and enter information about their original pieces of work. The data stored is immutable, and access to it is granted post authentication only. So, an alleged fake artwork can be detected by comparing its token with that of the original one. Different tokens for a single piece of work imply duplication, thus identifying and preventing the trading of forged artworks.
Authentication with Hash Pointers
Artists can record and authenticate their paintings on blockchain. Each data entry gives the artist a token, and each data block contains a pointer and timestamp. Original artworks can thus be verified and authenticated, ensuring the integrity of the product. Artchain.info is one of the platforms that exclusively offer digital authenticity certificates by implementing blockchain technology to verify millions of artworks around the world.
Traceability with Provenance Records
The data entered in the blocks on a blockchain is transparent to the end users. Verisart is a company that employs this feature of blockchain to offer detailed provenance records to both artists and buyers. These records help in identifying the rightful owner of the work, and he/she, accordingly, gets the full benefits of the trade. The records also help in detecting con artists and catching the fake art pieces circulating in the market.
Decentralization and No Middlemen
Blockchain enables decentralization of data stored on it, with a central node as the primary hub. All end users can access the data on the chain with appropriate user rights and authorities. With such a transparent data log, blockchains can reshape the now opaque art industry. Artists and customers can directly connect with each other, eliminating the need for a mediating agent. It adds to the credibility of the artist and helps both the parties in directly negotiating with each other. What makes art valuable, is the scarcity of the form. With blockchain technology, artists, creators, or even observers can decentralize the creation and trade of art.
Challenges Faced by Blockchain in the Art Industry
The art industry faces the following issues, which hinder the trade and proliferation of art pieces.
Fraud and Theft
Forging and counterfeiting famous works of art is the primary concern faced by the art industry. With technological advancements, this challenge is only getting bigger and stubborn.
Another complication in trading artworks is their authentication. Certificates of authenticity and forensics can help ensure the veracity of an artwork, but these methods can easily be tampered with, rendering them unreliable.
Lack of Provenance
Provenance is the history of the ownership of a particular commodity. Lack of provenance while purchasing an artform or collectible, holds customers back.
Art dealings are generally carried out via a long and complicated network of middlemen. This link turns out to be unfavorable for both the artist and the customer. Artists do not get 100% profit from their sales, and the buyers have to spend extra on the commission charged by agents.
On email security in the era of hybrid working
With remote working the future for so many global workforces – or at least some kind of hybrid arrangement – is there an impact on email security we are all missing? Oliver Paterson, director of product management at VIPRE Security, believes so.
“The timeframe that people expect now for you to reply to things is shortened massively,” says Paterson. “This puts additional stress and pressure on individuals, which can then also lead to further mistakes. [Employees] are not as aware if they get an email with a link coming in – and they’re actually more susceptible to clicking on it.”
The cybercriminal’s greatest friend is human error, and distraction makes for a perfect bedfellow. The remote working calendar means that meetings are now held in virtual rooms, instead of face-to-face. A great opportunity for a quick catch up on a few emails during a spot of downtime, perhaps? It’s also a great opportunity for an attacker to make you fall for a phishing attack.
“It’s really about putting in the forefront there that email is the major first factor when we talk about data breaches, and anything around cyberattacks and ransomware being deployed on people’s machines,” Paterson says around education. “We just need to be very aware that even though we think these things are changing, [you] need to add a lot more security, methods and the tactics that people are using to get into your business is still very similar.
“The attacks may be more sophisticated, but the actual attack vector is the same as it was 10-15 years ago.”
This bears true in the statistics. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) found in its Phishing Activity Trends Report (pdf) in February that attacks hit an all-time high in 2021. Attacks had tripled since early 2020 – in other words, since the pandemic began.
VIPRE has many solutions to this age-old problem, and the email security product side of the business comes primarily under Paterson’s remit. One such product is VIPRE SafeSend, which focuses on misaddressed emails and prevents data leakage. “Everyone’s sent an email to the wrong person at some point in their life,” says Paterson. “It just depends how serious that’s been.”
Paterson notes one large FMCG brand, where a very senior C-level executive had the same name as someone else in the business much lower down. Naturally, plenty of emails went to the wrong place. “You try and get people to be uber-careful, but we’ve got technology solutions to help with those elements as well now,” says Paterson. “It’s making sure that businesses are aware of that, then also having it in one place.”
Another part of the product portfolio is with EDR (endpoint detection and response). The goal for VIPRE is to ‘take the complexities out of EDR management for small to medium-sized businesses and IT teams.’ Part of this is understanding what organisations really want.
The basic knowledge is there, as many organisational surveys will show. Take a study from the Enterprise Security Group (ESG) released in October in terms of ransomware preparedness. Respondents cited network security (43%), backup infrastructure security (40%), endpoint (39%), email (36%) and data encryption (36%) as key prevention areas. Many security vendors offer this and much more – but how difficult is it to filter out the noise?
“People understand they need an endpoint solution, and an email security solution. There’s a lot of competitors out there and they’re all shouting about different things,” says Paterson. “So it’s really getting down to the nitty gritty of what they actually need as a business. That’s where we at VIPRE try to make it as easy as possible for clients.
“A lot of companies do EDR at the moment, but what we’ve tried to do is get it down to the raw elements that every business will need, and maybe not all the bells and whistles that probably 99% of organisations aren’t going to need,” Paterson adds.
“We’re very much a company that puts a lot of emphasis on our clients and partners, where we treat everyone as an individual business. We get a lot of comments [from customers] that some of the biggest vendors in there just treat them as a number.”
Paterson is speaking at the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo Global, in London on December 1-2 around the rising threat of ransomware, and how the security industry evolves alongside this threat. Having a multi-layered approach will be a cornerstone of Paterson’s message, and his advice to businesses is sound.
“Take a closer look at those areas, those threat vectors, the way that they are coming into the business, and make sure that you are putting those industry-level systems in place,” he says. “A lot of businesses can get complacent and just continue renewing the same thing over and over again, without realising there are new features and additions. Misdelivery of email is a massive one – I would say the majority of businesses don’t have anything in place for it.
“Ask ‘where are the risk areas for your business?’ and understand those more, and then make sure to put those protection layers in place to help with things like ransomware attacks and other elements.”
Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.
Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.
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