Whether just a few songs or an entire album, high-profile leaks in the music industry have shown that cybercriminals can target just about anybody they want to.
This article will go through some of the most significant data breaches in the music industry and the outcomes for each case. We’ll also suggest ways to learn from these cases and protect yourself online.
5 significant leaks in the music industry
Below are some of the most high-profile leaks in the music industry recently.
1. Ed Sheeran
With a string of critically acclaimed albums, Ed Sheeran is no stranger to the spotlight. But last year, the singer-songwriter made headlines when he became a victim of a costly music leak.
A hacker stole and sold two of Sheeran’s songs online. What was most concerning was that Sheeran was not the only musician affected, as officials found over 1,263 unreleased songs by 89 other artists stored on several of the hacker’s devices.
Several managers for the affected musicians discovered the breach and reported the culprit’s IP address and cryptocurrency account, who was subsequently jailed.
2. Dua Lipa
In March 2020, singer Dua Lipa brought the release date of her critically acclaimed album, Future Nostalgia, ahead by two weeks. The reason? A data breach of all 11 tracks on the album.
The singer admitted on an Instagram Live with fans at the time that she was “unsure” if this was the right course of action, but industry experts assume that the threat of music piracy was a major contributing factor.
More recently, many unreleased and scraped demos have been appearing online, with sources saying that the singer is “fearful” of her upcoming third album release.
3. Smashing Pumpkins
One of the most high-profile music leaks ever happened earlier this year, as Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins confirmed a hacker had seized nine tracks off their most recent album, ATUM.
Moreover, Corgan admitted to only discovering the breach through a fan and paid the hacker to stop sharing the music. The singer admitted he didn’t know how the hacker accessed the files but that they had material from other artists, too, and that the FBI is investigating the matter.
4. FKA Twigs
British singer-songwriter FKA Twigs had another high-profile data breach this year when over 85 of her demo tracks were leaked online. This massive breach of unreleased material prompted the singer to postpone future music releases.
While FKA Twigs didn’t share how the leaks came about, she did share a post on Instagram containing all the track names affected and highlighted the online abuse she’s suffered from the hack.
5. Kanye West
Another recent leak in the music industry, which proves how high-profile these cyberattacks can be, is with Kanye West, otherwise known as Ye. It’s been reported that massive amounts of his back catalog are regularly leaked online, including the unreleased Jesus is King 2 earlier this year.
The 15-track album featured never-before-heard songs and collaborations with a host of musicians, including Eminem and Dr. Dre, to name a few.
How does music get leaked in the first place?
There are many ways music can be leaked before its release date. In some cases, it’s thought that the physical security of music (e.g., CDs) is compromised.
But more often than not, a lack of cybersecurity results in music falling into the hands of hackers. So, how do you counteract this? Here are three simple solutions:
1. Use a Virtual Private Network
A VPN is an essential cybersecurity tool that protects us on the internet. It encrypts your internet connection, making it impossible for criminals to monitor your online activity.
Premium VPN services offer additional security features, including static IP address options, that allow you to log in to sensitive work systems and access restricted files safely and securely.
What is a static IP address? This is a dedicated address that your VPN assigns to your device. You can whitelist this address to your work files, ensuring you can access them. Even on unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi, a VPN will protect your work from being monitored and breached.
2. Stronger passwords and encryption
Passwords are one of the best defenses against a cyberattack and can be used to safeguard sensitive files such as unreleased music.
Some tips to strengthen passwords across the board include:
3. Educate yourself against phishing attacks
One of the most common cyber threats is a phishing attack. This is when a hacker pretends to be someone else and tricks you into downloading malicious files or compromising your accounts.
Hackers use personal data to make their attacks seem authentic and legitimate and target virtually anyone in the company they think has access to sensitive materials. Training staff from every department on ways to identify fraudulent emails and messages is critical to repel this kind of attack.