The pandemic forced the Cuban art market to close, encouraging locals to use digital technologies like NFTs. Nevertheless, major artists were subjected to censorship due to American sanctions against Cuba for the NFT marketplace Opensea (1), which went excessively far in removing content and accounts connected to the country from operating toward any harm or assault.
This all began in Cuba with the abrupt closing of Fabrica de Arte Cuban (2), an art gallery that offered major exposure for up-and-coming artists.
The embargo's consequences are quite unclear, which prompted the platform to just cancel or block the accounts rather than take a chance, according to Gabriel Bianchini, the founder of Cryptocubans and a Cuban visual artist (3).
Whenever Cuban artists began sharing their work online, they were subject to censorship. Ernesto Cisneros (4), a singer, artist, and NFT artist, also suffered a devastating loss after the pandemic. The embargo caused him to lose all of his Patreon earnings (5). He eventually found web3 because of this experience, but regrettably, the same catastrophe happened again.
He assisted other Cuban artists in joining Web3 and helping himself get there. However, the majority of the artists backed out. It completely stopped using the service after the OpenSea blocking of Cuban artists one by one started happening out of fear of an unclear embargo.
The censorship concluded that Cuban artists were likelier to become the targets of significant hacks. Avinro (6) and NFT artists from Havana claimed that antivirus software does not work properly because it is not readily accessible in Cuba. They also mention that a lack of digital security allowed an attacker to pass as an interesting buyer and send a virus via Zoom link (7), later discovered by the software about the virus.
Due to this oversight attack, the attacker was able to control the MetaMask wallet (8) and steal all the revenue as well as the user profiles on different NFT markets. Despite the apparent advancement in technology, which led to the establishment of official channels through which the Cuban government officially declared its openness to the use of cryptocurrencies and raised expectations for speedy adaptation.
Even if the regulations are rejected, it is still very possible that citizens will be subject to regulation. Also, the introduction of blockchain-based smart contracts has changed the game for Cubans willing to communicate with the outside world.
Smart contracts are seen as having the most independence, and once someone learns how to program one, there is no turning back. However, what occurred with Fabrica de Arte served as a warning for communities to move in a new way that will undoubtedly increase independence since this is the ideal time for developers.
NFT security and OpenSea
According to rumors, anyone may become a victim of an NFT harmful hack. The market for NFTs, which has flourished since the summer of 2021, and the NFTs' skyrocketing prices, eventually gave rise to hacks targeting NFTs.
The value transferred toward NFT markets by illicit addresses considerably increased in 2021, topping out at less than $1.4 million with a noticeable increase in the amount of stolen cash directed toward NFT marketplaces, according to the 2022 Crypto Crime Report by Chainalysis (9).
When a user's account is hacked, or suspicious activity is noticed, OpenSea includes two key security measures: freezing the account and blocking all the stolen NFTs. If you look closely, these features are highly ineffective. Locking an account can be done via the OpenSea website without human permission, but blocking stolen NFTs involves opening a support ticket and waiting for a response from the OpenSea support team.
When a user's wallet has been specifically compromised, and the hacker is now transferring NFTs out of the wallet, freezing the account would only be effective if done before the hacker moves every asset out of the wallet.
Similar to locking the accounts, blocking the NFTs only works before the hacker sells the NFTs. As a result of these security measures, several unintended victims end up with blocked NFTs that are neither transferable nor sellable.
This move was made because it takes at least one day to respond to tickets raised on the OpenSea marketplace. Another victim of this crime who gets hacked and washed out is welcomed even before the NFTs are blocked.
The need for preventive measures
The OpenSea security system's existing security safeguards lack any proactive elements that would protect users beforehand. The fundamental reason why the safety measures are inadequate is that they were put in place after the attack. According to the hacker's psychology, the most important factor is time. The secret to winning the war in the market is to implement security measures that can either stop the hackers in their tracks or at least alert the victims early.
Early warnings might easily stop severe losses and make the market, and both the user and the market, aware of the harmful conduct. Users would feel much safer in an environment where a system could quickly respond to their email or contact ID after spotting such behaviors.
Setting up a timeframe that gives users a specific period or gap for a transaction or transfer will reduce the washing of entire assets and give users time to be informed of the transaction, which will immediately alert the user about a transaction taking place. This is another method for preventing heavy theft.
Curating a suspicious dashboard that will enable the victims to add compromised accounts instantaneously for public scrutiny and give buyers access to real-time information about whether the seller is on the list or not would help purchasers identify the seller's identity. The victim must later supply the marketplace with documentation, such as a police report, to determine whether or not the reported accounts are compromised.
These measures may not function completely, but they could at least save users a small portion of their money and minimize major inconvenience. But when it comes to hackers and preventative measures for stopping hackers, it's always a race against time.
Although blockchain is widely regarded as the most potent and securely protected financial technology ever created, measures to prevent it from being hacked are still being developed and will undoubtedly make it much more challenging for hackers to penetrate.
OpenSea developed an Ethereum domain auction hack (10) in reaction to these attacks, offering the hacker a 25% selling profit in exchange for returning the stolen NFTs. Additionally, they offered a cooperative method of making amends with the hacker instead of punishing or rejecting all of the assets and user accounts.
Also, users must be aware of fundamental guidelines, including refraining from opening rewarded links from unverified sources and refraining from disclosing keys on open networks.