Cybersecurity for freelancers: does it really matter?

Freelancing has a lot of pitfalls to avoid. But is cybersecurity one of them? Unfortunately, cybersecurity is no longer just a large company issue. A whopping 78% of small businesses have been the victim of a cyber attack, according to Cisco. This is especially a concern for freelancers who are also digital nomads. New remote worker visas allow you to work from exotic countries around the globe, but that only means further network risks for you and your clients. As much as it might not seem relevant, cybersecurity for freelancers is critical not just for personal safety but also for clients. 

Working with your clients

One of the best things a freelancer can do is to work within a client’s existing systems, according to The 50 Laws of Freelancing. That starts with understanding how they do business and how they are impacted by the various risks out there in the world. From there, link into their systems whenever possible. 

If you don’t follow the same kinds of protocols, you open yourself and your clients up to a few major risks. Not only is there the potential for mixed documents (sending one client’s information to another by accident) but you can also become the weak link in your client’s cybersecurity wall. If your device is hacked or stolen while you’re working, you could cause a major issue for your clients as well. 

For freelancers, cyber is personal

A lot of freelancers use a personal device to operate their business. They might log into a different user account on their computer or use an app to have a “work” number, but it’s the same physical device. That puts cybersecurity squarely into personal territory for freelancers. 

cyber attack sources according to Varonis.
Source: Varonis Cyber Security Statistics study

If something goes wrong, you’re not just putting your work device at risk – it’s also your personal device. That means risking your personal files, images, messages, and more. 

According to Varonis, cyber attacks come from the most innocent sources. The biggest culprit, unfortunately, is email. 94% of malware was delivered by email, according to Varonis. From there, 34% of breaches involved internal actors, whether due to malicious intent or accident. As a freelancer, you are that internal actor – so a simple mistake or error (like opening a corrupted attachment that looks like it’s from a client) could cause lasting repurcussions.

Cybersecurity for freelancers

Here are some tips to keep your personal, work, and client content safe from a cyber attack.

  • Enable 2-factor authentication on every app you can.
  • Maintain multiple passwords so if hackers get one account, they don’t get everything. 
  • Change passwords frequently. 
  • Set recovery questions that are not common knowledge about you. 
  • If an email asks you to click a button or link, hover your mouse over the link. The bottom left of your screen will show the link address so you can assess if it’s safe. 
  • Leverage a web security platform like Cloudflare to keep your website safe from attacks. Cloudflare has a free tier and a WordPress plugin.
  • Work in the cloud as much as possible. If your device is stolen, you can log out of cloud accounts remotely and information remains secure. 

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