Category Archives: DAM

What the Equifax Breach tells us about cloud security

Equifax reports an intrusion into its system which “may have” stolen the data on up to 143 million Americans, including name, address, SS#, and Drivers license number. This is a terrible lapse in security, and, on paper, it should not have happened.

Equifax is a large and profitable company, whose central business is secure, trustable data management and processing. Preventing this type of cyberattack should be one of their most important goals. And yet, it happened. What can photographers and collection managers who use cloud services learn from this?

It’s impossible to know the real story from outside
The first thing to learn is that, as stated above, looking at a company from the outside can’t provide a guarantee. It’s hard to find a company that should have a better security practice than Equifax. They are not a startup prone to pivot, or running out of funds, or a company for whom security is a second tier issue. Yes, they make all kinds of mistakes in their reporting, but that’s an inherent part of gathering up trillions of individual transaction reports from many different sources.

If it’s hard for Equifax, it’s even harder for you
It’s getting reasonably common to hear that cloud service companies get breached, It happened to Adobe,  Yahoo (x3, at least!), and many more (click the link above for fun). But this does not mean you should just manage all your cloud security yourself. The vast majority of people (and institutional IT), simply have no idea how to fully protect from attack.

Cloud services have become essential in the creation, use, storage and management of photos and other media.  Unless you are going to go off-grid (start by throwing away your smartphone), you’re going to have to live with a certain amount of risk. The entry points for hacking are exploding. Now your fridge, car, connected camera, and smart lightbulbs can all be attacked by Internet of things (IoT) exploits. It’s going to get even harder to prevent cyberattacks as IoT grows.

So our best strategy is to become more resilient. Here are some tips.

1. Centralize all of the media you want to keep. Preserving your stuff starts with knowing where it is. If it’s spread between a phone, your laptop and across half a dozen hard drives, it’s impossible to really manage safely. You can now cheaply buy hard drives up to 12 TB. There is no excuse not to collect everything you want to keep.

2. Keep a local copy of any photos or other media you want to preserve. This means you need a copy of your photo archive on local drives, in your possession. Anything you have that is only stored in a cloud service is at some level of risk, and accurately determining that risk is beyond your ability.

3. Keep at least one copy of your data offline. For most people, that means copying your photos and other important data to additional hard drive(s) and unplugging. This is a backstop for all kinds of terrible things, not just cyberattack (lightning, theft, etc.)

4. Consider write-once media. While DVD and Blu-ray are fading from the media storage landscape, there is still a compelling reason to consider them. Photos stored on write-once media can’t be infected after-the-fact. If you think you have too much data for optical disc, consider the fact that Facebook has built a cold-data archive in North Carolina that employs Blu-ray (for the exact reasons outlined above).

5. If something is really sensitive and it needs to be stored in the cloud, you probably want it to be encrypted on the client side. (This means that software on your computer holds the encryption key, and the cloud service only has a scrambled copy of the data). Note that when I say really sensitive, I mean stuff that is life or death, or has a major financial component.

Backblaze is a service that provides client-side encryption. It’s not totally bulletproof, but someone would probably need to know exactly what to look for. Note that an encrypted cloud backup like Backblaze can also help to protect you against ransomware, like the May 2017 WannaCry attack, which is a growing problem.

6. Take a look at the cloud service providers you use. 
Even though you can’t remove all doubt about your cloud service providers, you can make some educated guesses. Does there appear to be a sustainable business model? Am I paying enough for this service to care about my security? Does a google search bring up anything hinky?

If you take these steps, you can help protect the integrity of your photo collection against growing hazards. You may not be able to prevent intrusion, but at least you can recover from it.

Progress on DAM Book 3

As promised, I’m providing a significant update on The DAM Book 3. The book is moving along quite well, although significant work remains. We are setting a very conservative release date of November 22nd. We may be able to move this up as the writing and layout moves along.  I also promised a look at the Table of Contents, and you can find it here.

I’ve spent the last two months working to integrate the new elements of the digital photography ecosystem into a cohesive discussion of how the parts interconnect. I’ve also done lot of work to disentangle stuff that looks similar, but has important differences.

For instance, how is a synced filesystem utility like Dropbox fundamentally different than a cloud library service like Libris, and what is each one good for?

I’ve also spent a good deal of time speaking to the many experts I know in the field of imaging, testing my assumptions, and checking to see if I’m missing any big elements in the ecosystem.

With the scope and structure locked down, and all the old copy redlined and commented, I’m entering the home stretch. Now it’s time to finish the execution. Some chapters are basically done, and some are still in outline form. I expect that we’ll see some small changes in the Table of Contents, but those changes should be minor.

We’re still running our Dam Book 2 special. Buy The DAM Book 2 for $19.95 and get $15 off The DAM Book 3. At some point in the next month or so, we will start discounted pre-sales for The DAM Book 3. Sign up for our mailing list (on the top right of this page) to stay up to date on our special offers and release dates.

ASMP Webinar July 26 – Digitizing Photo Archives

I’m happy to be back in the ASMP fold, doing a webinar next week on digitizing photo collections. Of course this will be based on our new book, Digitizing Your Photos, but with a special emphasis on the relevance to professional photographers.

I’ll be demonstrating how camera scanning can allow for large-scale conversion of film and print originals to digital images, which is important for those of us who have large film archives. I’ve digitized more than 50,000 of my own images, and continue to add new images.

I’ll also be touching on business models that photographers can consider for new services for their clients. There are a lot of companies and institutions that have large collections of physical photos. I’ve been able to help some of my clients with the process, as part of my professional services. I’ll discuss some business models for adding these services.

What about DAM Book 3?

Inquiring readers are asking, “What’s up with The DAM Book 3?” Wasn’t that supposed to be published by the end of 2016? As John Lennon famously sang (borrowing a phrase), Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. In the case of 2016, family obligations once again took me in an unexpected direction. We had some significant health challenges (that seem to be successfully met) as well as some other significant family milestones.

Krogh_161222_2812One of those milestones has reprioritized my writing schedule. We moved my dad out of his house of 55 years, and this has left me in possession of a massive family photo archive to manage. There are tens of thousands of photos in all formats  – from daguerreotypes to glass plates, to vintage and modern prints, many thousands of slides, negatives, framed prints, scrapbooks and more. There are more than 10,000 images sitting on this cart, and that’s just a part of the archive.

There is some real urgency here. First, I need to get this stuff sorted and put away so I get my studio back. But more importantly, I need to get my dad to help me tag these images. He’s the only one left who can identify a large percentage of the people shown. Krogh_170116_2883Here is a small selection of the framed prints we copied.

A new DAM Book Guide
DYP Cover Mockup

Working with my daughter Josie, we’ve been able to sort, triage, digitize, annotate and curate a growing share of this collection. And we’re making a book from the experience, Digitizing your Photos. It’s a multimedia volume that will give you a step-by-step cookbook for managing this entire process, using  a digital camera to scan and Lightroom to control the optimization and management.

We expect to be shipping digital versions in April. The manuscript is essentially complete and I’m currently shooting photos and videos. I’m really pleased with the results of our scanning and with the comprehensiveness and clarity of the book. Stay tuned for more info as release nears.

Okay, so what about The DAM Book 3?
Our plan is to make 2017 the year of the book. I’m fully committed to getting TDB3 out the door this year (along with one other book as well). The DAM Book is a lynchpin to our entire publishing effort, and I feel a deep commitment to modernizing it. So, yes, barring some other curveball, I’m looking forward to pick it back up well before the solstice.

 

World Backup Day

Once again, it’s World Backup Day! While it’s not as fun as Talk Like a Pirate Day, it’s arguably more important. All of us have important digital stuff that we’d hate to lose. So if the lack of a solid backup plan is something that’s bothering you (even a little), take the opportunity to do something about it.  Here are some suggestions.

Send in the Clones
If all your stuff can fit on one single hard drive, then you’re in luck. You can make a clone of your drive.  A clone is simply a copy of the drive, written out to another hard drive. It’s really useful if your hard drive crashes. And a clone that lives in a separate place from your laptop will give you protection in the event of loss, damage or theft of the computer.

Clones are easy to make, and offer a high level of protection (as long as you update them regularly). I think of a clone as a disaster-recovery backup. As someone who really values my data, I like to keep an extra clone stored offsite, in case there is a fire or theft that destroys both my laptop and my main clone.

You can read about making a clone over at dpBestflow.org.

Krogh_150331_WD_Air

I’ve been using this nice little WD My Passport Air for my clone, it’s small, light and durable. It also has built-in encryption so your stuff is protected even if the drive is lost. 

Online backup
While I think everyone needs a clone for fast recovery, I’m also a big fan of Backblaze for continuous off-site backup. It’s a real set-it-and-forget-it system. It costs $50/year per computer to make a duplicate of your entire computer up to the cloud. This protects against the threat of total loss of onsite data, as well as any files that have not been backed up to offsite storage.

Backblaze is particularly valuable for family members or other who are not vigilant about backing up their stuff. I set up both my daughters before they went off to college, and, wouldn’t you know it, one of them dumped a pitcher of water on the keyboard of her laptop during freshman year.

Note that Backblaze is not really designed for large image libraries that many photographers have.

PhotoShelter or other web service
You can also use a photo-oriented service for backup. If you are a PhotoShelter customer and you use Lightroom, you can automatically publish images to the cloud. I have mine set to publish high quality JPEGs from all 4 and 5 star photos.

Publish Backup

 

 

 

 

 

Lightroom’s Publish Services can be used to backup images to the cloud mostly automatically. This can provide a current JPEG (or original file) backup that is updated as new files are added to the catalog. 

Big Drives
If you have a lot of data like photos and videos, you might want to get some big drives for backup. WD is now shipping 6 TB drives that are about $250. That’s a heck of a lot of data in a small package at a reasonable price.  There’s no excuse not to keep those photos backed up.

Krogh_150331_Toaster(Back them up twice if possible – once on-site, and once off-site, for a total of 3 copies.

Here’s a really economical way to backup files. Get a bare drive and a “toaster”. You don’t want to use the toaster for everyday use, but they are great for backup.

 


Don’t let Perfect be the enemy of Good

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the considerations that go into a perfect backup system. So don’t try to be perfect, try to be better. If you don’t have a clone, get one. If you travel a lot, then online backup may be a good addition. And if you have only onsite backup, consider adding an off-site.

Each time you make an improvement to the system, you add more protection, and reduce the chance that you’ll lose important data.

Disclosure
I’ve recently been working a bit with the folks at WD. They have sent me some equipment to evaluate, and they sponsored my last talk at PhotoPlus Expo. And a few weeks ago I went to a Product Summit in Laguna Beach. I still have to buy most of my own hard drives, and I’ll typically buy WD when I’m spending my own money.

I have also been working with PhotoShelter to create a new service for people who buy photographs. Again, I’m working with a company I really believe in, because I really believe in them.

Cyber Monday 25% off DAM Useful Publications

We’re offering our largest ever holiday discount here at DAM Useful. Our Cyber Week deal gets you 25% off all books published by DAM Useful. Order before Dec 7.

Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5Organizing_Your_Photos_150px

Electronic Delivery  $34.95  Sale $26.18
DVD $39.95 Sale $29.93
Book and DVD Combo $59.95 Sale $44.96

Multi-Catalog Workflow with Lightroom 5MCWF_150px

Electronic Delivery   $34.95  Sale $26.18
DVD  $39.95 Sale $29.93

The DAM Book 2

Electronic Delivery   $19.95  Sale $14.96DAM Book_150px

Open Roads Open Minds by Steve UzzellOROM Cover150

Electronic Delivery  $12.95  Sale $9.71
Book and DVD Combo $29.95 Sale $22.46

 

What’s a Multimedia eBook?

As I’ve been presenting to audiences recently, I’ve realized that the books we’re producing are a bit mysterious to some. Most people don’t have experience with true multimedia publications. While some eBooks will have “bonus video”, few are created from the ground-up to integrate both text and multimedia as a seamless experience.

Right now, we have two books in this category: Organizing Your Photos and Multi-Catalog Workflow.

I’ve made a short video (1:24) that helps explain what we’re producing. I’m sure this will be a common media type in the future, but for now, it’s still a bit unusual.

If you want to download a sample of Oganizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5, there’s a link below. See the Table of Contents, Introduction, and the first two spreads from each chapter. The videos have been downsized for faster download.

Note: The links in the Table of Contents will work for any pages in the sample document, links to missing pages do nothing.

cloud-download-2 Download Sample

Lightroom mobile now available – eBook Too!

Adobe has just released the first version of Lightroom mobile. This allows integration between a Lightroom catalog and your iPad, as well as publication to a website, as shown above.

LRM2This screenshot shows the same collection, this time on the iPad.

On the iPad, Lightroom mobile enables a two-way workflow between desktop and tablet. You can export photos to the iPad, and then make adjustments, set flags and add to collections. Changes you make on the iPad get synced back to the main catalog on your computer.

LRm1And here you can see the Develop tools at the bottom of the screen. Once you make changes on the iPad, they can be synced over to the main version of the catalog.

The Lightroom mobile release version is just a start. Adobe will add Android and iPhone platforms, as well as plenty of new functionality. At the moment, you can do some basic develop adjustments, and you can flag images and add to collections.

lrm1_350x279

Victoria Bampton, The Lightroom Queen, has published a new eBook that covers the use of Lightroom mobile. You can buy it from us for $6.50. It’s a very reasonable price for the time it will save you.

Lightroom mobile is included as part of a Creative Cloud subscription, as well as the $9.99 Photographer’s Bundle (Photoshop CC, Lightroom and Lightroom mobile). If you have bought the “perpetual” version of Lightroom, the only way to get Lrm is to move to the subscription.