It all started in 2017 and in three years the NFT hype grew to a point where, everyone is talking about NFT’s. From Gary Vaynerchuck who has already created one of the most successful NFT projects out there to Mark Cuban, a business tycoon who entered the NFT space and make lots of money. Coming to India, even noble stars like Amitabh Bachchan has entered the NFT sphere. He became the first bollywood star to enter the NFT sphere.
NFT’s or Non Fungible Tokens have symmetrically mimicked the early 1900’s and 2000’s Internet Bubble and those who have got in early has definitely felt the pleasures of massive wealth rewards. From Beeple, who sold his Everydays The First 5000 Days Artwork Collection for $69 Million Dollars. While NFT projects like CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties are making people overnight millionaires every single day!.
NFT’s are a way to prove ownership of a Digital Assets which the data is stored in the Blockchain network. The moment you Tokenize your Digital Asset or Artwork with NFT’s, the data of your Artwork is stored in the blockchain network, thus representing you as the creator and if you sell it, one can also track the future owners of your NFT.
This has become a very good way for artists to prove ownership of their work. Due to this, their work not only becomes rare, unique and valuable but also it has the potential to rise in value. Similar to how the early days of the art industry used to be like, where only the rarest of the rare would get a chance to reap the rewards of fortune. Artists had to be exceptionally brilliant in terms of skill, art, creatively as well as marketing and branding in order to make a living. Today, with NFT’s, artists no longer need to get to that level. Even a simple, meme like the Nyan Cat which sold for $500,000 Dollars has the potential to gain huge success.
This means, NFT’s has indeed completely shifted and changed the art industry. With NFT platforms like Rarible, OpenSea, and Nifty Gateway, today, anyone can create an NFT and make lots of money out of it.
The only problem is, today, even though NFT have been a very secure way to not only prove ownership of one’s work but to also protect one’s work, there are still cases of NFT Theft and Crypto Wallet Hacks.
This is exactly what we’ll be discussing on today in this article. That whether or not NFT’s can be stolen or not.
Can NFT’s be Hacked? and if so, how?
ARTIST QUINNI’s STORY AND HOW HER WORK WAS STOLEN AND TURNED INTO AN NFT
Qinni, original name Qing Han’s became really popular as an artist in the last 5 years. Just in 2018, she had under 20,000 followers on Twitter and by the early 2020’s, her artworks that focuses on her obsession with Japanese anime series, Cardcaptor Sakura has helped her reach over 200,000 followers while gaining over 2.5 Million followers on Instagram.
During the early 2020, fans received a devastating news about Qing’s health condition that she was suffering from Cancer Stage 4. With a message from Doctor that she has another year and a half to live. As horrible as it sounds, from this time, Qinni’s artworks started depicting her battles and war against Cancer. It showed us how it felt, when someone suffers from Cancer, while the world is beautiful and green, but slowly, one knows that he’s dying every single day.
But something even worse happened when Ze, her brother got informed by a friend of his that her sisters work was being turned into NFT’s and being sold on NFT marketplaces.
Ze Tweeted “Regardless on (sis) what side of the debate you’re on about that, that’s just a morally shitty thing to do“. He further says, “So please stop profiting off my dead sister“.
This is very sad and indeed horrible and totally inhuman. It’s like the thief who stole his sisters artwork has no mercy or feelings for the fact that she was suffering from Cancer and taking advantage of that is very cruel.
Here we come to a conclusion that, Was Qinni’s NFT’s hacked or Wallets hacked?. The answer is no, it wasn’t hacked but the thing with NFT’s is that, anyone can create an NFT, upload any artwork, and mint them. This is exactly what the fraudsters did with Qinni’s work. This means, if you have an Instagram account and you upload your art there, anyone can steal JPEG images of those artwork, and convert those into NFT and sell in on the Marketplace. This is one of the biggest pain points of NFT or Non-Fungible Tokens.
As of today, there is no specific requirement proving ownership of one’s work while creating an NFT. In the NFT marketplaces, even you can take a meme from the internet and upload and turn it into an NFT.
This brings us to the question, that NFT’s were supposed to act as a medium of protection and prove of ownership for artists right?. And yes that is true, NFT’s does provide us with that, and it has helped the art industry in thousands of different ways. But there will be one black sheep or one single flaw which destroys the entire system. These are the scammers and hackers.
This means, Artists have to be very careful on the internet and should protect their work. They should take precautions and security measures in order to not let the hackers or scammers get on their way.
Digital Art, Copyrights, Non-Fungible Tokens and Mass Production of Art
Non-Fungible Tokens or NFT’s by default provide owners with a contract that proves the original ownership of the NFT or Digital Asset. This means that mass production of the Digital Assets such as Artworks or Digital Images is prevented to some extent.
Just before NFT’s anyone could steal the work of others and sell it online claiming the work to be their own. But today, one can track the original owner of the Digital Asset through NFT’s as all the Data of Ownership is stored on the Blockchain network.
This means if someone would want to steal an artists NFT artwork and create 100,000 copies of it, it wouldn’t be easily possible for all the thieves to do it as it would cost a lot of money. As we know, creating NFT’s require money and Gas fee’s which are expensive.
However, the truth is that NFT’s cannot give copyright to the owner. In fact, NFT’s are not a way to get copyright either. The owner who created the NFT or Digital assets get the copyright to his work by default, the moment he creates his work. As NFT’s in real are just Crypto Tokens that have the ability to represent a Digital Asset. While NFT’s cannot be duplicated, replicated or replaced.
But a thief can create an NFT by uploading someone else’s artwork and sell them on NFT marketplaces. This goes against the law and it is illegal but this is exactly what happened with Qinni’s work.
Therefore, we can say that to some extent, NFT’s does protect one’s work from Mass Production, but it cannot completely provide a shield that protects the artist from Theft. There will be someone who will try to steal your work if it is too good or even worse create a similar type of project.
AUTOMATED NFT BOTS – The most ridiculous way to create NFT’s of other people’s tweets.
Mass production which was a big problem may seem to have been solved to some extent with the introduction of NFT’s, but surprisingly it’s still isn’t safe here.
There are ways hackers and fraudsters can steal NFT’s and one of them is NFT Tweet Minting Bots. Yes, you heard that right, using a bot to create and mint NFT. Namely @TokenizedTweets is an account which is responsible for doing such activity.
The bot creates NFT’s of Tweets without the permission of the owner. While, initially, the twitter account may look like it’s promoting different artists and their work, in reality, the promoted tweets are turned into NFT’s.
A Russian Artist name Weird Undead said that she became suspicious of a user name @TokenizedTweets who used to feature her work in their twitter account. After some investigation, she found that her tweets with her artworks was being auctioned on OpenSea which is one of the biggest NFT platforms out there.
The question is people aren’t stealing NFT’s directly, but they are doing it indirectly without someone else’s permission.
When someone mints an NFT, they are essentially create a crypto token that’s tied or represents a digital asset.
This means owning an NFT doesn’t directly give ownership rights of the artwork but rather the ownership rights to the NFT Token itself. Now that NFT Token, if tied to a artwork automatically gives rights to the owner.
This means, there isn’t much protection in terms of copyrights and theft with NFT’s. Anyone can steal the work of others and turn them into NFT’s.
The only catch is that, if they do so, they cannot mint NFT’s in large quantities.
This is a problem that most artists and creators are probably used to and yes, to some extent, NFT’s have helped us, but it’ hasn’t completely solved the problem.
COMING TO CAN NFT’s BE STOLEN?
Can users Steal NFT from my personal NFT account?
The answer is that’s totally not possible through any hacking means or code breaks. This is why nobody can steal your NFT from your account, unless they take your image and create a new NFT and mint it entirely new.
Unless, if they get access to your 12 Word Secret Seed Phrase.
The 12 Word Secret Seed Phrase is a recovery phrase given to you while you create your Crypto wallet. Now if you use that wallet to link to any NFT platforms like Rarible, OpenSea or Niftygateway, if hackers and scammers get access to this Secret Phrase, you can completely lose all your funds on your Crypto Wallet as well as NFT’s.
This is the only known way by which hackers can steal NFT’s and Crypto Funds and there have been several cases of this already in 2021.
Therefore, it is not possible to hack NFT accounts as the security level of NFT platforms are pretty high. But, that Recovery Seed Phrase is like the key to your NFT account. The moment you lose it to someone, consider the fact that you’ve lost all your NFT’s.
NFT’s in general cannot be stolen but a thief can easily steal your work and create an NFT out of it. This means it’s really not safe and an artist or creator should always take some precautions and should be careful with data.
Here are some tips that can help you protect your Work and Crypto Wallet.
- The 1st tip is always to keep your 12 Word Secret Phrase safe and secure. You can use physical backup devices like “BillFlod Wallet Backup Device“ to store your seed phrase in a physical location.
- Avoid giving your seed phrase to any website. It doesn’t matter if even MetaMask is asking for it, don’t give them unless if you are going to import your wallet or trying to recover your account.
- There are many Phising websites popping up taking the form of websites that look exactly like MetaMask or OpenSea but has a different URL. Know the actual URL of these NFT sites and never login into the wrong websites. The moment you do it, they will ask for your Seed Phrase, therefore don’t give and check if you are in the right website every single time.
- Upload your work in JPEG or low quality files that when downloaded has a very small file size. Never upload your original high resolution images of your work online.
- Try to get Copyrights for your work and find a way to let the world know that you are the original artist.
- If you find any accounts who have been duplicating NFT’s on those marketplaces, contact support and report them immediately.
- Lastly, again the 12- Word Seed is like extremely valuable. So make sure that no NFT marketplaces should ever ask for it and not even Coinbase or MetaMask. Normally, its never required. But incase if you forgot your password to your MetaMask account or CryptoWallet account, its only then you can use those words to recover.