How cybercriminals target freelancers and how to protect yourself

How cybercriminals target freelancers and how to protect yourself

16 October 2020

We have all heard the phrase “time is money”. We are pretty sure whoever said it was probably a freelancer. Being self-employed is already difficult enough as you can’t really enjoy any financial benefits of paid time off.

Whenever freelancers aren’t working means they aren’t getting paid. Thus, freelancers can’t afford extra downtime from a computer malware or a privacy data breach. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are aware that many freelancers have access to their client’s private information and use public WiFi. Also, they usually don't use antivirus programs, making them a great target.

We compiled a list of some cybersecurity tips that will protect you from hacking attempts and prevent ransomware attacks.

  • Always keep your operating system up to date

An updated OS contains the latest security patches which will protect you against viruses and malware. As soon as you update your OS, the chances of preventing a hacking attempt are very high. If you don’t want to bother yourself with updating your OS, there is an option to set up an automatic update.

  • Use strong and unique passwords

If hackers attack you, they can steal the passwords of your clients’ accounts and gain access to their personal data very easily. In order to protect your clients and yourself, having strong and unique passwords is a must.

Never use the same password in more than one place or create simple passwords like “qwerty” or “123456”. When creating a password, always use uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. This will make it harder for hackers to attack you.

  • Beware phishing emails and scam websites

Phishing is the most common social engineering attack. With this scam, cybercriminals trick users into giving up their own passwords, credit card details, social security numbers, and other personal information.

In order to protect yourself, first you need to understand how phishing emails work. Whenever you receive an email from an unknown sender, check for the grammar. If the email contains misspellings, it’s usually a scam. Never click on any suspicious links in emails with threatening subject lines Click or Else! These are the most common signs dealing with a phishing attempt.

Hackers always find new ways to target unsuspecting users. They even started using emails from legitimate websites in order to conduct their hacking attacks. However, they don’t limit themselves to emails. They even set up scamming websites similar to the legitimate just to steal your information. In order to see if a website is legitimate, you can use various tools online to check the domain’s reputation for safety.

  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

When you use a VPN, the data you transmit online is encrypted. This means that it’s impossible for cybercriminals to identify that you are the sender or receiver of the data or even locate your physical location.

VPNs are ideal to use when you are connected to a public WiFi or working remotely. Even though the best VPNs are paid, they are not all the same. Before purchasing, do research, and run a test in order to make sure that the VPN you choose is safe.

The best VPNs are paid services, but research before you buy. Not all VPNs are created equal. You can run a test to make sure that the VPN you choose follows the standard encryption methods.

  • Public WiFi isn’t safe

Most cafes and restaurants offer free WiFi, but that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s safe to connect. Using open WiFi networks makes users and their devices vulnerable to hackers who can easily obstruct your communications with a man-in-the-middle attack.

Whenever you are using public WiFi, don’t leave your devices unattended, invest in a privacy screen, and download an encryption software to protect your documents. Also, you can download a tracking software in case someone steals your device.

  • Backup your files

When you make copies of your files, you protect them from any malware attacks or crashed devices. With data backup, you prevent yourself from becoming a victim of ransomware attacks.

Users who have only one copy of their data can easily become a target to cyberthieves who will ask for huge sums of money in exchange for the data. But, when you have more copies of your data, all those threats won’t affect you.

The most ideal way to protect your data is to have a back up on a physical hard drive as well as another one online. Investing in backup is better than paying a ransom. Also, your clients will feel safer knowing that their data is protected.

  • Download antivirus software

An antivirus software program will protect you from any malware, phishing scams and it will manage your passwords. It will also notify you when there is a threat to your computer and protect you from any hacking attempts. Unlike free versions, paid versions offer more features like firewalls and password managers.

In order to protect your devices and your client’s data, you don’t need a computer science degree. Just follow the tips above and no hacker will be able to get access to your device and steal your data.

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