Cybersecurity & Freelancers
Cybersecurity continues to rise in importance as more and more Businesses become the targets of online attacks. It’s not just large corporations that are on the end of these attacks, but freelancers too. We've teamed up with IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed, to bring you some great tips on how you can stay safe online as a freelancer.
Freelancers may be particularly vulnerable to cybercrime. A recent study from Business in the Community (BITC) found that nearly half of small businesses have not taken any steps to increase their cybersecurity in the past year. The report also found that a third of small businesses in the UK have no strategy in place for a cybersecurity breach. This is worrying as, according to the City of London Police, more than 2,000 cyber-crimes were reported by businesses in 2018.
Technology such as laptops and tablets make it easier for freelancers to work remotely, with around 50 per cent of people spending half the week working in places outside of the office. However, remote-working can come with increased technical risks, as freelancers may not have access to secure Wi-Fi hotspots, or IT support when needed.
Here are ten tips in how to improve your cybersecurity as a freelancer:
- Always work from a secure connection - Public Wi-Fi hotspots are potentially the biggest source of problems for those who work outside of office spaces. If you're working in a public space such as a coffee shop, hotel, or airport, connecting to your phone's personal hotspot instead of a public Wi-Fi hotspot is an easy way to protect yourself.
- Antivirus software is crucial - Antivirus software doesn't need to be expensive, but it's worth shopping around to find the best software for your business. It's worth spending money here, as a good antivirus software can save your business both time and money in the long-run. Important features to look out for include email protection, secure network protection, and anti-spyware. Also remember that your phone or tablet are vulnerable. A useful additional feature is automatic virus and program updates, which makes sure software is always up to date.
- Regularly update software - If software updates are not automatic, leave aside time every couple of weeks to check for software updates and install them if necessary. These often contain security bug fixes and new approaches to protection. The quicker you update your software, the safer your network.
- Consider using a VPN - A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a fantastic tool to route your Internet access through. A VPN encrypts your data, meaning it's harder for cybercriminals to access your information. There are free VPNs available online, as well as a range of different paid services.
- The 3-2-1 method of backing up work - Although obvious, backing up files is one of the best ways to protect your work should a cyber-attack take place. The 3-2-1 method of backing up work is split into three parts: one is your live and local copy that you use daily, the second is a local and easily accessible backup system, and the third is a backup system that’s stored off-site. Local copies can be as cheap and accessible as an external hard drive, or memory stick.
- Off-site backup - Using a cloud backup creates a secure copy of your work and data off-site, meaning it provides additional protection against theft, fire, or damage to either your computer or a physical copy of your work. Cloud backups are highly secure, as they encrypt files to offer enhanced privacy and security.
- Data Protection - The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came in to effect in 2018, meaning freelancers have a duty to protect their customers' data – or else face large fines. A continuous data protection (CDP) system constantly backs up data to a local backup server – although these can be expensive, they take some of the hassle out of data protection.
- Review and Record - Neil Lewis, publisher of CyberSafe.com, told Modern Work magazine that if you're unsure how to protect data, a good start is to create a document that lists areas to improve data protection and start taking the first steps. If you track every step you've taken towards data protection, this document should show good intention and may keep you safe from fines or damage, should a data breach occur.
- Cyber Insurance - Cyber insurance is a good way to protect your business from a cyber-attack. Aon provide a cyber insurance which covers both your business’s liability following the loss of personal data, and the cost of meeting your obligations when personal data is lost - saving financial worry for freelancers. IPSE members receive exclusive enhancements to Aon’s cyber cover at no additional cost.
- Consider training for employees - If your business has employees, it’s important to train them in basic cyber-security, such as identifying email phishing scams. These are emails which include links or attachments which can infect your computer and network with viruses.
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This content was created on 4th June 2019
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