As a freelancer, you have a lot on your plate each day. You’ve got to keep up with deadlines, check in with clients, and market yourself as your own personal brand. It’s likely the last thing on your mind is cybersecurity.
After all, who would want to come after you when they could hack into major corporations with millions of dollars?
Unfortunately, that mindset is often what makes it easy for cybercriminals to attack the “little guy” and get exactly what they want. Everyone can be a target of identity theft and cybersecurity breaches, including freelance writers.
In some cases, freelancers could be easy targets for cybercriminals. They might attack multiple people a day just because so many workers don’t have the right security and protective measures in place.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re safe? How can you combat cyber threats and avoid these dangerous attacks?
The Issue of Identity Theft
One of the biggest potential cyber threats freelancers need to be aware of is identity theft. You might not be a multi-million dollar corporation, but that doesn’t mean a cybercriminal doesn’t want your information to do as they please.
As a freelancer, your career situation is unique. You probably spend most of your time online, connecting with various clients, networking with other writers, and managing different accounts. You probably have a lot of your personal information on the cloud, and you likely have some kind of payment system set up through sites like PayPal, Wave, or even Venmo.
Without the right protections in place, it’s easy for cybercriminals to steal your identity and get access to your personal information. Even if they don’t hack into your online accounts, they can get access to bank information, credit card information, and more. Some of the warning signs of identity theft include:
- Statements or bills for accounts you never opened
- Declined credit
- Unauthorized bank transactions
There are things you can do to combat identity theft once it’s occurred, including freezing your credit and working with your bank or financial institution. However, it’s always better to protect yourself and prevent it from happening, rather than having to deal with the headache of fixing things after you’ve already been victimized.
Be Vigilant With Your Passwords
One of the easiest and quickest ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals is to strengthen your passwords. You probably have dozens of different accounts online, from email to invoicing. Having different passwords for each one is a good place to start, but there are additional things you can/should do to strengthen your password protection.
First, never keep your passwords unencrypted or unsecured. Don’t email them to yourself, store them in a note on your phone, or have them written down somewhere that someone could see.
If you’re worried you’ll have a hard time keeping track of multiple passwords, consider using a free password manager to store them safely, and ensure your data stays safe without you having to remember multiple words, numbers, and symbols.
Delete Your Data Properly
Because you do most of your work on a computer, chances are you have a lot of data stored in different places. Nowadays, it’s easy to store information on cloud-based services, which usually have their own security measures in place. However, you can take extra measures to keep your cloud storage secure, including:
- Using two-factor authentication
- Clearing out “deleted” files
- Checking your connected apps and accounts
- Deactivating old devices that still have access
You might also have some information stored on hard drives. It’s not uncommon for people with a lot of documents or information to want tangible storage devices that will keep their information safe. However, hard drives can get old and eventually will need to be disposed of properly. There are plenty of big box stores and services throughout the country that will recycle your hard drives for free, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it with security in mind.
Make sure to delete sensitive or private information from your hard drives before taking them anywhere. Or, utilize a service that will wipe the drives clean for you. It might cost a bit extra, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Work with reputable companies that receive strong reviews online, and don’t be afraid to ask about their recycling process before you decide who to hand over your hard drives to.
Invest in the Right Technology
Speaking of worthwhile investments, it’s essential to make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest security technology. When you have a career that’s dependent on tech, it’s worth it to invest in the best.
That includes making sure your home office and computer are equipped with the right security provisions. Start by making sure your office space is secure and safe. Utilize things like surge protectors and hubs to keep your tech from shutting down or potentially losing your data in an accident.
When it comes to boosting your digital security, you can invest in a strong firewall. Home offices are often goldmines for cybercriminals because they don’t usually have as many security measures in place. If they see a firewall, they’re less likely to waste their time and will move on to an easier target.
Finally, if you want to make sure you’re utilizing the right tech and security software, do your research. Keep yourself as educated as possible when it comes to the latest in cybersecurity issues and scams. Familiarize yourself with phishing scams and “trends” that criminals are using to attack freelancers and people who work remotely.
This is especially important if you travel a lot or you’re a digital nomad, working from multiple locations. You should prioritize building a cybersecurity fortress, which might include things like a VPN and updating your firewall regularly.
Don’t assume that just because you’re a single freelancer with a small business you’re not an ideal target for cybercriminals. They’ll assume that you won’t protective measures in place. Prove them wrong, keep yourself (and your career) safe, and you’ll have more peace of mind as you long on and start working every day.