Due to the growing prevalence of cybercrime, remaining safe online is a significant concern for freelancers.
Due to the plethora of conversations a freelancer must have with customers daily, as well as the quantity of papers, attachments, and other downloads they must access, freelancers are an ideal target for cybercriminals.
To safeguard yourself from the internet threat posed by hackers, here are eight security recommendations to follow when freelancing.
Tips for freelancers on online security
- Install an antivirus program on your computer
Protecting your system begins with exercising caution when opening files with questionable file extensions. Several times, accessing a downloaded Microsoft Office file might infect your machine with macro malware disguised as Microsoft Docs macros.
The macro virus installs a RAT (Remote Access Trojan) on your system, which allows a hacker to access sensitive information on your computer, such as usernames and passwords needed to log into various accounts.
Simply being careful while opening files with strange file extensions would not protect you from such dangers. As a result, you should install a strong antivirus application on your PC and check any file attachments before opening them.
- Maintain a consistent update schedule for your applications
Installing app updates protects you against bugs and security flaws. Updates fix security vulnerabilities in prior versions. This safeguards you against malware that exploits security flaws in applications and the operating system.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) to browse the internet anonymously
By connecting to the internet over a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you may surf anonymously and remain invisible to hackers seeking evidence of your online activity. Additionally, a VPN encrypts all of the information you input online, making it difficult for any third party to eavesdrop on the data you enter online, whether over a public network or from the comfort of your own home.
Apart from providing online anonymity and encrypting your data, a VPN enables you to access geo-restricted websites whose services may not be accessible in your zone of operation. This is feasible because a VPN replaces your Internet Protocol (IP) address and location with its own. Thus, while connected to a VPN server in the location of the geo-restricted website’s server, you may browse the internet anonymously and access prohibited websites.
The key to fully using a VPN service is to use a premium VPN with industry-leading capabilities, which include:
- Encryption technology for military-grade
- Numerous users under the same account
- Global network of high-speed servers
- Compatibility with all major operating systems, including Windows, iOS, Android, and Mac OS
- Technology for intelligent kill switches
- Connection with unlimited bandwidth
- A no-logging policy that is strictly enforced
NordVPN is a highly regarded premium VPN service. Apart from these premium features, you’ll also get substantial savings on subscriptions and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the premium services.
- Be wary of internet frauds
The easiest approach to avoiding online scams is to use a freelancing site that protects both you and your customers in the event that a contract goes bad. A good freelancing site will often demand a “safe pay” deposit from the employer, which will be released when the project is completed.
Although there are some juicy job advertisements that appear too good to be true, you should proceed with caution since these listings are sometimes frauds.
- Ensure that your accounts have strong passwords
A strong password consists of a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters and should be at least eight characters long.
Long phrases work well as passwords as well — for example, ‘[email protected]’clockexcepttoday’ (I wake up daily at 8 O’clock except today).
Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts and change them on a frequent basis.
Additionally, you may use a password manager to establish strong passwords and manage them, alleviating the stress associated with remembering lengthy and complex password combinations.
- Create a system backup
Backup your computer to guarantee that you do not lose important data and documents related to your freelancing operations if your computer crashes or if you migrate your documents to a new computer.
Using cloud storage services such as pCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive for backup guarantees that your files are regularly and automatically backed up.
- Create a separate email account for freelance work.
Using a separate email address for freelance work helps organize your work and secures your email account from hackers.
- Avoid disclosing personal information to your clientele.
You should restrict the information you disclose to your customers to work-related information. Sharing personal information with customers online may be highly hazardous and expose you to assault.
As a result, banking information, addresses, passwords, and other personal information should be kept private from your employer, as you may not know the genuine identity of the person with whom you are interacting.
The recommendations above are tried-and-true methods for protecting yourself against fraudsters and other internet risks.
Using a VPN safeguards your data from compromise, even while surfing on a public Wi-Fi network infected with malware. As a result, you may continue working while on the road.
A decent antivirus program is also critical for keeping your computer secure and clear of viruses, some of which are designed to steal your personal information.
Keep your banking information private. Never email your employer a photo of your debit or credit card or other financial information that might expose you to fraud.
Keep a watch out for scammers and, if feasible, do background checks on your prospective employer prior to accepting their offer. Additionally, following your instincts will help you avoid being a victim of online fraud.