It is Information Technology that has allowed so many of us to work as freelancers. However, as freelancers, we also need to be aware of the inherent risk of using IT. The good news is there is plenty you can do to minimize falling foul to online security issues. Keep reading to find out what they are.
The first thing you need to be able to do, to keep yourself safe online as a freelancer is how to spot a scam. I’m not just talking about phishing here either. Although it is well worth bearing in mind that these are becoming ever more sophisticated by the second. Indeed, knowing how to spot a fake phishing email by checking the link it contains before clicking it, or even contacting the company that supposedly sent it, in a way unrelated to the information provided in the email can save your skin!
No, instead, the type of scam that is most dangerous to freelancers is the one where you find a project, do the work, but don’t end up getting paid for it! Sadly such scams and the others listed at https://www.freelancer.com/community/articles/6-common-freelancer-scams-and-how-to-spot-them are more than common, and it’s not always fly-by-night businesses that enter into them either. Indeed, some medium to larger and well-established businesses have been known to withhold payments, and even use proofs or initial work in place of the final result.
One way of avoiding getting into such a situation in the first place is to always make sure you go through a reputable broker such as a freelancing site. Then you will be covered if the recipient does not choose to pay for some reason.
Of course, not everyone wants to spend time building their reputation up on these types of sites or pay the fees that they require. With that in mind, if you want to go it alone you must always ask for at least a 50% deposit upfront before you do any work.
The great thing about this is that it helps weed out anyone that isn’t serious or doesn’t have the money to pay for the end product before you have even begun. You can then agree on the rest of the payments in increments aligned with milestones in the project. Something that should prevent you from being scammed.
Protect your privacy online
Next as a freelancer staying safe online, you must do all you can to protect your privacy. After all, there will be things like your client list, business plan, and customer details that you will not want to share with the whole world!
Unfortunately, maintaining your privacy online can be much more challenging than it first appears. This is because much of the internet is designed to track your actions and store this information to be sold or used in marketing later on.
Of course, there are some things you can do to stay as private as possible online. One of these is to have separate social media accounts for your business and personal life. Another is to evade tracking online, something you can learn about at https://setapp.com/how-to/remove-tracking-cookies, where removing cookies is discussed in detail. Which should stop much of the data gathering that occurs every time we go online.
Finally, be sure to secure some safe spaces for data storage, especially when it comes to confidential client data, and project critical information. Many freelancers choose services that not only offer additional security, but that also encrypt such data so even if it did fall into the wrong hands, it would not be usable.
It’s a very basic concept, but making sure that your passwords are actually secure is essential for any freelancer looking to stay safe online. In simple terms, what this means is that generic or easily guessable passwords are a massive no-no. Instead be sure to take the advice you will find at sites like https://blog.avast.com/strong-password-ideas, and use a mixture of numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols, and to make each password you use unique.
The end goal of any freelance project is to complete the tasks and most importantly get paid. The problem is that for many freelancers this means supplying unverified contacts with their personal information such as bank details and address.
Obviously, when you look at the situation in this way, it doesn’t sound like the wisest or safest of moves, now does it? That is why instead of using your personal account details it’s better to go through a third-party payment service like Apple Pay or PayPal instead. A comparison of which you can find at https://comparisons.financesonline.com/apple-pay-vs-paypal-payments-pro. In fact, by using such a service both you and the payee will be protected so it makes sense all around.
Backing up important info
You will see this tip time and time again when it comes to staying secure online, but it truly is worth repeating. After all, as an online freelancer, the majority of all your effort and hard work is likely to be contained in digital files.
Of course, digital files can get corrupted or be lost and that is why it is so important to keep a backup – as clients do come back with changes, and you can even use the basis of one project to build another on.
An external hard drive is a smart move here as it means you can keep it separate from your device. Therefore even if your device is hacked or stolen you will still have all your data. Alternatively, why not try a cloud-based backup service? The advantages of these are that they have excellent and up to date security and people on hand that can help you with any queries over things like integration and automated backups.
Make sure your computer is secure
Finally, all the tips above aren’t going to be much use to use as a freelancer if you don’t first take action to make sure your computer and any other devices that you use are secure.
It’s best to take a two-pronged approach to secure your devices. This should include installing up to date antivirus software like the option you will find at https://geekflare.com/antivirus-for-business/ to protect them from specific threats. After all, you don’t want your clients’ details falling into the hands of hackers and ruining your reputation.
Additionally, making sure you have an effective firewall in place around your network will ensure incoming and outgoing traffic is monitoring for any non-secure behaviour.