Data breaches and cyber-attacks are among the current biggest risk facing freelancers. Despite the threat, many freelancers still believe they can’t be affected. However, the situation can be salvaged. How can you do that? Even without company security or enterprise-level security or backup measures in place, as a freelancer, there are things you can do to ensure your clients’ data are secure. Here are five cybersecurity mistakes that freelancers make and best practice to ensure your data is safe.
Assuming that all internet connections are safe
Public Wi-Fi hotspots are the biggest source of problems when it comes to cybersecurity. Make sure to tether your smart device and use it as your own mobile hotspot when working in a public place such as an airport, coffee shops, and hotels. This process is more secure than directly using the public network
What to do: regardless of whether you are using a public hotspot or a private one, it allows a good idea to encrypt your traffic as much as possible. Try routing your internet through a virtual private network (VPN) and make sure you visit only sites that use HTTPS. After you figure out if the public Wi-Fi is safe, consider dropping down your list to “trusted “public Wi-Fi networks.
Not securing your password
Passwords are crucial to everything you do as a freelancer. Passwords keep your data, your client’s data and even your earnings.
What does this mean?
It means, to ensure your data, client’s data and your earnings are safe, you need to have a complicated password and one that is secured. Following standard password logic; using your name, date of birth or “12345” as your password should be avoided. Cyber thieves know that most people prefer using these standard passwords because they are easy to remember. What you need to know is that cyber thieves can guess even complicated passwords using specialized software. Using standard passwords only makes their job easier.
What to do: You too can use the software to create strong passwords. Software such as free password manager will automatically provide you with strong passwords and also make it easier for you to change your password something you should consider doing every two months if not a month.
Not encrypting and scanning your data
As a freelancer, there are lots of data you deal with on a daily basis. A freelancer is a technically self-employed business owner, which means you should protect your work devices the same way a business would. While you can’t afford the top-of-the-line enterprise-security solution, you can afford to get a solution that will help secure your information on your device.
What to do: before you do anything, make sure you encrypt and scan your data. Data encryption and scanning is the surest way to protect your data. Encrypting your data from end to end offer you security even when the network transit you are using has been compromised.
Not taking advantage of free antivirus software
Free antivirus software are all over the internet. Yes, they are many. One of the biggest mistakes a freelancer can do is not taking advantage of the software. Yes, you might be using VPNs, but even the best VPNs won’t keep your data secure. Cyber thieves know this and they use computer viruses such as botnets and Trojans to deliver malware that will destroy your data. With the malware, you will end up losing your data or have to pay up if you lose your clients’ data which will finally lead to losing the clients if they are not understanding.
What to do: if you don’t want to use the free antivirus software, then consider using the paid versions. The paid version of antivirus software comes with built-in VPNs and password managers.
Assuming your physical surroundings
As a freelancer, you need to be careful with your physical work habits and surroundings. Even when you have the most encrypted VPNs and secure password, they won’t help if you are careless with your physical surroundings.
What to do: when working in a public place make sure:
- No one sees your computer screen, written notes or keyboard strokes
- Never leave written information out to the public
- Shred all the documents that contain your confidential information
- Remove remote storage devices such as CDs or USB drives when you finish working or accessing your data and store them safely.
- Don’t forget that laptop screen privacy is the most inexpensive way to keep your data away from the public prying eyes.
It’s understandable when cybersecurity may not be included in the priority list for freelancers, who lack security and resources of a larger company. With at in mind, now imagine having to explain to a client you can’t finish the assignment because of cybersecurity. The above tips will help you make sure you don’t inadvertently corrupt, loss or grant unauthorized access to your data or clients’ data.