The freelance revolution is evolving and growing by the day. Freelancing, which is the backbone of the so-termed “gig economy,” has won great acclaim as the future of work.
From being your own boss to a flexible work schedule, there are several advantages to being a freelancer. As a freelancer worth their salt, delivering on the project at hand as per the client’s guidelines should not be your sole focus.
You should also prioritize data information security at all times. It is your responsibility to ensure that you put in place different measures to protect and secure your clients’ data.
In the business world, the value of cybersecurity is something that cannot be understated. There is simply too much at stake.
Whether you are working with a client on a one-off task or you will rendering your talents and services for a specified contract period, here is a look at some points you should bear in mind even as you prioritize data information security of your clients.
Work From Secure Networks Only. Always
There are several elements to consider on this front, including the following:
Secure Your Home Network
Make a deliberate effort to arm your home network. For starters, you will want to be a little bit more creative with naming your network and the passwords you set.
That you still use the default name on your network will signal to potential cyber attackers that you have more than likely not taken any steps to make your network more secure.
Avoid using your name, phone number, or any other such information that’s easy to guess when setting your passwords. You may want to consider using a password generator.
Password encryption at all times will also do a lot to arm your home network. WPA2-PSK is one of the most secure encryption protocols.
You may also want to disable guest networks. One too many interceptions of login credentials have happened over these unsecured connections.
Be Careful With Public Wi-Fi
As a freelancer, working on your project as you grab a coffee at that coffee shop down the street is quite common.
And how much better is it all when they have a working and fast Wi-Fi connection?
Think again. These public hotspots are among the most unsecured networks out there, and without any layer of protection, be sure that you are setting yourself up as an easy target.
These open connections are often unencrypted and quite insecure, which leaves you open to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) cyber-attack.
You may also be unknowingly connecting to a rogue hotspot, set up with a name similar to the legitimate one.
As said, without any extra protection, the best thing to do is to avoid public Wi-Fis altogether. Instead, you should stick to a personal hotspot or tether from your phone.
Use A VPN
Enter Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and you have the layer of protection alluded to above.
VPNs encrypt your traffic and mask your IP address. Hackers have no chance, even on public networks, and you can go about your work without worrying about anyone spying in on what you are doing online.
With quite a number of options to choose from, consider the strength of encryption and speed, among other critical factors when choosing a VPN.
While there are plenty of free to download VPNs, you may want to consider paying for a premium plan which comes with added features.
Some clients will give you access to their entire network or database, while others are very keen on restricting this access.
Whatever the case, what you can do on your end is to ensure that you only access what you need to work on and complete your project successfully.
By so doing, even if hackers try to trace your digital footprint, they will not have an easy and well-mapped out path to your clients’ sensitive information.
Invest In Antivirus Software
You should always be vigilant about where to download your files and apps. The same goes for any uploads, be it from a client-issued drive, or any other source.
A powerful antivirus software will detect and remove potential threats in your uploads and downloads.
Ensure that you run your software and scan these files. Some VPNs also include an antivirus as part of their package.
Install An Encryption Software
If you use cloud-based storage services such as Google Drive, then you can be sure that every file on there is automatically encrypted.
Even then, you can go ahead and beef your data security by adding another layer of protection using encryption software.
End-to-end encryption is the way to go if you prioritize data and information security. There is software you can use to encrypt your files before uploading the same to the cloud.
Invest In A Back-Up Solution
Like cloud-storage above, cloud-based back-up solutions help you to keep your files secure and encrypted.
In the unfortunate event of a breach that makes it difficult or impossible to access your data locally, then you can easily restore the files.
It’s not uncommon to resort to doing a remote wipe when you, for example, lose your laptop or mobile device.
Does your work involve you using the software, be it for data analysis, or whatever else it may?
If you do, then ensure that you install and run software updates as and when they become available.
These updates typically come with security patches for any vulnerabilities in your current version that hackers may look to exploit.
Make a point of updating every piece of software that you have installed on your devices, right from the operating system itself.
Remember to be vigilant, though. Hackers have also taken to using fake update notices to lure unsuspecting users into downloading malicious files.
Look To Your Client
After carefully evaluating what your available resources and what you can do, do you feel that there is still a gap in data security that cyber attackers may explore?
If you prioritize data security, then you will not hesitate to ask for access to the necessary security tools and resource from your client.
Access to enterprise-level resources such as firewalls and encryption software, however limited, will make a huge difference in keeping your client’s information secure.
Knowing what’s at stake, clients are seldom hesitant about granting access to the freelancers whose services they have engaged for their projects.
Don’t think that, as a freelancer, you are too small to be a target for cyber attackers.
Invest resources and implement the best practices, some of which are as highlighted above, to keep your clients’ data secure.
Neglect to do your part, and your clients may hold you both legally and financially responsible for any losses and damages resulting from consequent data breaches.
Again, your reputation will be on the line, and you may have a hard time scoring another gig as a freelancer if word goes around that clients’ data is not safe in your hands.