Thanks to Not Now Mom’s Busy for allowing me to share these tips with their readers. As a freelancer, you’ll most importantly need to find legitimate sites that are looking for your work, so take a moment to check out this post listing “Five Sites That Pay You For Writing And Blogging.”
Whether you’re a freelance writer, graphic designer or your skillset lies elsewhere, be aware that there’s always someone looking for a freebie online! That includes potential employers as well, or those posing as potential employers at least. It’s not uncommon to find scammers on the net just about anywhere, and unfortunately, some of them are very good at what they do.
Scams aren’t the only thing to look out for while freelancing though; there is also the threat of malware, which could ultimately crash your computer. And don’t forget hackers as well. When you’re dealing with the personal information of both yourself and your clients, you definitely don’t want to run into anything that could allow your data to become compromised.
So here are five security habits you should keep in mind while freelancing in order to prevent cyberattacks, save some time and maintain a good reputation with your client base.
- Don’t Overshare
Of course it’s necessary to share some of your personal information with certain clients, such as your full name, mailing address and email, but be wary of whom you’re sharing your details with. There are a good number of people online that are interested in committing identity theft, and although your client may seem like the real deal, always keep an eye out for scammers.
Don’t ever share any passwords or banking information, and don’t be so quick to hand out relevant information to just anyone. Try to do a bit of research on the company or person in question if you’re able to. If you’re using a freelance website, often there will be reviews available written by others who have worked with the employer.
Not everyone you work with will have reviews, though some are still legitimate, so just pay attention for any red flags and question whether or not those asking for your personal information are even likely to need it to begin with.
- Use Security Software
One of the most important security habits for a freelancer (or anyone using the internet!) is to use security software. Having the right programs on hand can not only protect your identity online, but also help you out if your device acquires malware. Many have heard of anti-virus programs, and you should never have any internet-enabled device without one, but there’s also another important security program you should be using.
Often overlooked, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is essential for freelancers. The chances are that you’re going to be using public WiFi at one point or another, and without the use of a VPN service, hackers could easily spy on your activities during that time. That not only becomes a threat to you, but also your clients, as their data is likely to be stored on your computer.
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A VPN service allows you to encrypt your internet connection, creating a secure connection on your devices (it can be used on smartphones, tablets and computers) and route your internet traffic through a remote server. Masking your IP address by connecting to a VPN helps you to protect your identity online, creating a safer internet experience overall.
- Pay Attention To The Details
There are some simple ways you can spot scammers online, especially when freelancing. One is the lack of professionalism by those claiming to be involved in a company. Pay attention to the small things, such as broken English/bad grammar and asking you to front the costs of work related materials. Always be cautious when dealing with anyone who doesn’t have any reviews (if using freelancing sites) and, if possible, look into whether or not they are who they claim (perhaps they are a Mr. Homer Simpson from Fox Network, but upon further inspection, no one with that name is actually employed by that company).
If contracts are ever required, read them over in their entirety before signing, and avoid providing thorough samples without payment. If you’re a writer, one short article should suffice, as there are those who are just looking to collect freebies without ever hiring anyone.
Stick to legitimate, trustworthy websites whenever possible. Freelancing sites such as Guru and Upwork are a good choice, as they list the payment history of potential employers, as well as reviews, which make it easier for you to figure out if a job is worth applying for.
- Logout And Use Strong Passwords
It can be easy to forget to logout of your accounts when you’re done using them, but it’s much safer to do so! A compromised account could easily damage your reputation as a freelancer if word gets out to your clients or, even worse, if malware gets sent out to them from your email address.
It’s also important to use strong passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid reusing passwords and saving them on your web browser(s) since it presents a security risk. Consider using a passphrase, as single words are more vulnerable.
- Keep Backups
If your device is ever hacked, you’ll be a lot happier knowing you have a backup of your files handy! Always keep backups current so you don’t lose any of your important data. If you’re not sure how to do this, there is software available to assist you, or you can simply copy your files on to a SD card, external hard drive or flash drive.
It’s wise to keep more than one copy of the backup and storing it on another computer is a good idea too. Just don’t forget to keep it in a safe place, as of course you wouldn’t want it falling into the wrong hands.
When doing anything on the internet, security software is going to be your first line of defense. It protects your information without you having to do much of the work and also allows you to remove malware if your device becomes infected. These programs can’t do everything though; you’ll still have to do your part by keeping an eye open for phony employers.
Overall, adopting these security habits will surely help you prevent any bumps on your freelancing journey. Not only do safe practices protect you as the freelancer, but also your clients, so they can rest easy knowing that you’re doing everything in your power to create a safe environment for any data they share with you.
Do you have any security tips for our fellow freelancers? Please share them with us in the comments section below.