Being a freelancer in any industry is challenging. You can bask in every success and you’re on the hook for every failure. One area you can’t afford to fail in is security.
When you work for a corporation, the management handles everything from securing the network and all devices, regulatory compliance, and managing the physical security for the building. When you’re a freelancer, the safety of your data, resources, and devices is entirely up to you.
Here are three digital security tools to keep you and your equipment secure:
1. A video surveillance system
When you’re responsible for the security of your computer equipment, you’re naturally going to be a bit more careful with it. You probably won’t leave your laptop in an unlocked car or join public, unsecured networks and then sign into your email account.
Theft hits you harder as a freelancer
Say someone breaks into your home and steals the laptop loaned to you by your boss. You’ll lose a bunch of your work and you’ll have to change several passwords, but you’ll be given another computer to use. It may take you a while to get back on track but you’ll recover. You’ll also get paid to recover. In the end, it won’t matter who took your laptop and your boss won’t launch a massive search to find out.
If you’re a freelancer experiencing the above scenario, you’ll lose your personal files and projects along with your work. You’ll also have to spend a good chunk of cash to get a new computer. In the meantime, you could be stuck doing business on an older machine, your tiny smartphone, or you’ll need to rely on public computers. You’ll want to find out who stole your laptop, but by the time you figure it out, your computer will be long gone.
If you had a video security system installed, you’d be able to identify the thief faster, and you’d have the evidence needed to pursue the case in court. CCTV systems are an affordable investment, and you can get one for under $70. If you want features beyond the basics – like infrared night vision and the ability to zoom and capture while moving – you’ll pay more, but not much.
2. A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN encrypts data sent over your internet connection and helps you remain anonymous on the web. It makes it look as though you’re surfing the web from a remote server’s IP address while hiding your real IP.
It’s not uncommon for hackers to sit around in cafes and hijack browser sessions to steal data. They’re looking for usernames and passwords, mostly. Encrypting all of your activity over a public network with a VPN prevents these hackers from being able to decipher your credentials, emails, or anything else. They can still intercept it, but they can’t read it.
A VPN is an important digital security tool if you’re a freelancer who regularly uses free, open Wi-Fi at places like Starbucks.
3. A mobile hotspot
A mobile hotspot is a more secure way of connecting to the internet when you’re freelancing from a café or library. It’s your hotspot, so you set the password. When properly secured, a hotspot prevents hackers from hijacking your browser session, waiting for you to type in the login credentials for your bank.
Keeping a mobile hotspot with you at all times is a good idea. You can get hacked anywhere, even on a plane.
Vice president of VASCO Data Security John Gunn told USAToday.com, “A hacker can go on a flight that has no Wi-Fi and preset an open network with the name of the airline, and people connect to it thinking it is legit. They try to reach popular websites and the hacker can preset the login screen to capture their user name and password, and then present an error message, after which the hacker has access to the account when they land.”
A mobile hotspot isn’t going to perform at top speeds, but that’s okay when you’re using one to get by until you return to your usual, secured network. Unless you’re required to upload and download massive files like raw media, you don’t need a high-speed hotspot.
Precautions are worth taking
Consider ramping up your security an investment rather than an expense. All it takes is one security violation that costs you data or your equipment for regret to sink in. It will cost a bit of money to get setup, but the security precautions outlined here are worthwhile.