As freelancers, we sometimes have to deal with client data and the issue of cybersecurity often seeps into our consciousness. Because if that data is compromised while in our possession, it’s ultimately our fault, right? And who want to hire a freelancer who accidently leaked a lot of valuable information?
This could be anything from a sensitive piece of marketing data to personal information and once it has been leaked, there’s no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.
The problem with being a freelancer, rather than a business, however, is the lack of resources we have to put into cybersecurity. Where even a small business might be able to invest in a more comprehensive security package or hire somebody to take care of it for them, we are not afforded that luxury.
But there are things you can and should be doing to mitigate the worst possible outcome. With that in mind, I thought I’d take you through some of the things I do to keep my data and my client’s data away from nefarious prying eyes.
I know you’ve likely heard this one many times before. Nevertheless, you’d still be surprised at how many freelancers neglect to update the programs they work with. Practically every software update comes with its share of security vulnerabilities - usually the ones that cyber attackers already know about. In other words, hackers know how to exploit weaknesses in out-of-date software.
The solution, then, is easy: keep your software updated. This applies to everything from your applications to your operating system.
The simple power of the password is often underestimated. You probably know someone who has used something along the lines of “password1234” as their password or even used their house name or number or birthday. That’s never a good idea. Putting more thought into your passwords goes a long way. Here are some handy tips on how to fortify your password.
- Avoid the obvious: “password” won’t cut it.
- Use more than one word: dictionary attacks make short work of one-word passwords.
- Longer is better: keep it above 12 to be safe.
- Don’t just use letters: adding numbers and symbols helps a great deal.
- Don’t make it relevant to yourself: avoid opting for something like your pet’s name.
- Change your passwords routinely: as often as thirty to ninety days.
Encryption essentially makes all data unreadable to those who aren’t supposed to see it and works especially well in situations where data needs to be transferred, like sending something via email.
It might sound fancy, but it’s also quite affordable these days. In fact, there are plenty of free programs that do it for you. AxCrypt, VeraCrypt, and NordLocker provide great services for free software.
Finally, ask your clients for help! Sometimes, the client has more cybersecurity resources at their disposal than you. If you feel that your protection is lacking, it’s probably a bad call to just hope for the best. So, why not reach out to your client for some assistance?
Your client might be happy to provide you with their safety tech. Working with company-level firewalls, backups, encryption, and more is always going to be safer than fending for yourself. If their safety is on the line, they should be happy to help.