When designing websites in a corporate setting, you probably have great internet security at your disposal. But when you’re a home-based freelance web designer, you face more cybersecurity concerns than you might realize.
When working with clients, you have an ethical responsibility to secure their data at all times. However, the insecurity of the worldwide web makes that difficult.
“Freelancers are often tasked with developing projects and working on files on their own computers, without the same security tools and policies an employee working at a large enterprise [has],” Mohamad Ali, president and CEO of Carbonite, a provider of data protection solutions told BusinessNewsDaily. “This puts freelancers in a precarious situation, since they’re usually left … protecting [their own] personal and business files when working at home or from the road.”
He says this is the same problem that large corporations have when employees bring their own devices to work. It opens them (and their clients) up to significant security risks. Knowing what those risks are and how to avoid them is essential to successfully navigating the world of freelance designing.
Here are some security basics you should know:
Backup Your Data
One of the most common security losses freelancers face is the loss of data following a cyber attack. If your data isn’t properly stored and backed up, you’ll be privy to these debilitating losses.
Ali also warned that there’s a difference between data backup and storage. If you want to protect your digital assets, you need to focus on backing up your data securely, not just storing it.
“If you’re using cloud storage as a substitute for backup, you can easily lose data through accidental deletion, overwriting or by simply forgetting to manually upload files before … a security incident arises,” Ali said. “With cloud backup, software is continuously and automatically backing up all user files and data, and scanning for changes along the way. True backup also helps with versioning, so if you overwrite a file, you can access the older version, saving you hours of having to re-do that work.”
Use a Secure Connection
Any internet connection you use should be password protected with basic security features. As you search for internet providers for your home, look for high-speeds and security basics. Some internet providers offer lower security standards for a lower price, but this isn’t the right package for freelancers who have access to sensitive client information. When setting up your Wi-Fi, select a complex password that would be difficult to hack.
Additionally, avoid public Wi-Fi. It’s nice to be able to work at a coffee shop to get out of the house, but public Wi-Fi is a huge security risk. Anyone with access to YouTube can learn how to hack your computer and any information you have stored. They could steal website credentials and create serious problems for you and your clients.
Try a VPN
Many freelancers also use a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts data so that hackers can’t decipher the information. It protects the connection between networks so your device is basically invisible to threats of intercepted data.
“If you will be conducting business via wireless connections in your home, VPN software should be implemented and used at all times,” says Patrick Barry, CIO of a cybersecurity firm in North Carolina. “This will ensure all traffic is encrypted and not accessible to an attacker.”
Freelance business owners often use a VPN to assuage client fears of hacking. It’s an additional surcharge each month, but cybersecurity threat prevention makes it worthwhile.
Know Your Stuff
Obviously, you know how to code, but if you’re looking for greater security, it’s vital that you stay up to date with the latest coding basics. Coding standards change all the time, increasing security threats.
“When coding a website, other people out there are developing methods to navigate around your code and break into the websites,” warns an article from DistinctWebDesign. “Keeping on top of the trends is important. If you know what tactics hackers are using, you can take steps to prevent them.”
Consider enrolling in an online course at least once per year to learn about the latest technologies and methods for defending against cyber attacks. You’ll learn more about great web design and how to keep your client websites safe.
These are just a few simple steps that freelance web designers can take to improve their client security and enjoy the benefits of a more secure connection. All it takes is one cyber breach to derail your freelance business. Know the precautions you can take now to prevent that from ever happening.