Cybersecurity is a hot problem for all freelancers in today’s business world, and it should be a top priority for all freelancers.
Whether you’re just starting a second job as a side hustle or it’s been your primary source of income for years, there’s never been a better moment to reconsider your approach to remaining safe online.
Here are just a few of the primary reasons why you can’t afford to ignore cybersecurity for another second.
1. There is an increase in cyber threats
Between 2017 and 2018, cyberattacks rose across the board. While ransomware increased by 21% (1), malware, botnets, and web-based attacks all increased by more than 10%. Over a five-year period, the overall increase in cyberattacks is 67 percent. Nothing will motivate you to take control of the problem with quick outcomes if that statistic does not.
Criminal activity can affect freelancers in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:
- Website attacks that result in payment redirections, link redirections, and site downtime.
- Social media channel attacks result in malicious messages being sent to clients.
- Client database hacking, leading to the theft of private client info as well as intellectual property.
- Device takeovers through ransomware that demands money.
- Computer and internet infestations in which cryptocurrency miners use your systems.
Cyberattacks are dangerous in varying degrees, but freelancers should avoid them all. Given their prevalence, paying special attention to this aspect of the venture is critical.
Anyone who fails to do so will only have themselves to blame if they become a victim of an attack, especially since the number of viruses and attacks will only increase in the future years.
2. Cybercriminals Prey on Freelancers and Small Business Owners
If the increasing number of cyberattacks isn’t enough to scare freelancers about the importance of solid cybersecurity, the evolving tactics of cybercriminals will be.
As a freelancer, you may believe that your tiny business activities are risk-free because the rewards are insignificant to the fraudster. Unfortunately, this is a common misperception.
While the incentives may be lower, thieves’ success rates are significantly higher since they know freelancers and small firms do not employ the same level of security as global giants.
In fact, 43% of all cyberattacks (2) are directed at small businesses. Individuals who work on a freelance basis are also at great risk.
There is no way to prevent cybercriminals from targeting freelancers and small enterprises. Worse, their continuous success means that many will continue to take this approach for the foreseeable future.
The best thing you can do is take command of the situation by defending yourself. Ignoring the dangers could lead to disaster.
3. You Are Legally Obligated
First and foremost, you should incorporate solid internet security for the benefit of your own interests. After all, you most certainly rely on digital communications for a variety of business tasks every day.
You must, however, adhere to your legal obligations regarding confidential information, notably that of clients.
The GDPR regulations went into force in May 2018 (3), affecting any freelancers who contact EU individuals – even if they are not located within the European Union.
Similarly, data protection rules in the United States, Australia, and other regions of the world must be followed. Failure to do so may subject you to legal action as a result of providing hackers access to the data, especially if you did not adhere to the most recent standards.
While legal responsibilities may appear to be the most bothersome reason for investing in stronger cybersecurity features, the reality is that putting these elements under control could spare you from a nightmare while also limiting the harm should cybercriminals still find a way past the defensive barriers.
4. The financial consequences of cyberattacks can ruin a freelancer’s career
Fear of a cyberattack is a negative thing. The reality, though, is arguably worse. As a result of worldwide assaults, cybercriminals profit in excess of $1.5 trillion (4), but the damages for businesses and freelancers like you are far bigger.
When calculating the exact expenses of a cyberattack on your freelance work, there are numerous aspects to consider, including:
Furthermore, you may be required to pay a ransom to regain access to systems or services. Most hackers want this in the form of cryptocurrency payments and other non-traceable aspects, which means you’ll never see that money again.
Depending on the sort of assault, replacing hardware may also be required.
As a freelancer, losing several thousands of dollars to a cybercriminal is simply out of the question.
5. Inadequate security will be a major distraction
It’s the oldest adage in business, but time truly is money. Aside from the concrete consequences described above, the very fact that you haven’t protected your own business ventures will come back to haunt you both consciously and subconsciously.
Every day that you are hampered by the risk of a data leak is another day that you are unable to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Inadequate cybersecurity will divert your attention away from your primary business activities in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to:
- You’ll wonder if systems have already been infiltrated by cybercriminals.
- Spend time thinking about how you would respond to data breaches.
- Waste time considering the updates and precautions that could (and should) be taken.
- Spend more time using Google searches to verify files, domains, and software before downloading.
- Feel the need to investigate every minor problem such as web downtime or slow CPU performance.
Even with this added concern, it can take several weeks to uncover a problem and another 50 days (5) to disclose a data breach.
These dismal statistics contribute to the financial and practical consequences of cyberattacks. When combined with the non-tangible consequences of distractions, you can no longer afford to neglect cybersecurity.
6. Client Decisions Will Be Influenced by Cybersecurity Levels
As previously stated, news of a cybersecurity compromise will affect your reputation. If you have any doubts about this assertion, consider the impact that security issues have had on global behemoths like Facebook in recent years. When you consider your relative absence in the first place, it’s easy to see how clients would react to the news.
It is conceivable for Internet of Things devices to be attacked within five minutes (6) after connecting to the internet. However, the consequences may endure a lifetime.
Spend 10 minutes researching freelancers and small businesses that had to close their doors as a direct result of cyberattacks, and you’ll quickly see why putting yourself in a vulnerable position isn’t a choice.
Clients (and employers) are the lifeblood of a freelancer’s operation. If they can’t trust you – even if it’s due to your carelessness rather than malevolent purpose – they’re unlikely to hire you. Market rivalry is fiercer than ever, and if you give customers a cause to choose competitors, they will.
7. The Aftereffects of Cyberattacks Are Difficult to Overcome
It is quite difficult for a freelancer to recover from the immediate effects of a cyberattack. Even if you do, the ramifications of internet threats will weigh heavily on you for years to come.
Bad reviews, poor press coverage, and other unwelcome attention are unavoidable, and they will affect your online visibility owing to SEO and other features.
Furthermore, if you are the victim of a data breach or a cyberattack of any type, individuals in your sector will speak up. This terrible reputation could haunt you for years to come, as the strained connections will go beyond your current clients to new clients and companies as well.
Over 1 in 9 (7) attacks has direct consequences that endure more than two years, and the long tail expenses will undoubtedly delay your success as a freelancer as well.
Many people and small businesses devote a significant amount of time and money on post-attack cleanup. To be honest, preventing the damage in the first place is a far superior option for the short and long run.
8. Cybersecurity has an impact on everyone with whom you work
As a freelancer, you must frequently be self-centered in your endeavors. When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s crucial to understand that cyberattacks can have a significant influence on everyone with whom you engage.
It makes little difference if the problem is a data breach, outage, or something else. The fact that it will affect everyone should emphasize the importance of getting this factor under control.
Some of the persons that may be impacted by your insufficient cybersecurity approach include:
- Customers and employers
- Financial backers
When you add up the damage inflicted by each of these individuals, it’s evident how vital cybersecurity should be addressed. Cyberattacks occur every 39 seconds (8), and putting yourself at risk puts everyone else at risk.
Similarly, if you do not invest in the proper cybersecurity measures, the damage caused by the mistakes of the people with whom you engage may spread to your systems as well, which is still another compelling reason to take control right now.
9. Good Cybersecurity Will Lay The Groundwork For A Winning Strategy
It should be evident by now that cybersecurity is an important aspect of your freelance employment. However, it is critical to remember that it is employed to safeguard your finances rather than to increase them.
To obtain more contracts and achieve tremendous success in the extremely competitive field, you must master all other parts of your actual services as well as your marketing efforts. The online security features will get you started in the correct direction.
It is shown that two-thirds (9) of small businesses have suffered cyberattacks, and freelancers fall victim to a similar rate of online criminal activities. Putting the right systems in place significantly reduces the risks involved, and can have an indirect positive impact on:
- The performance of your systems, not least due to your regular updates.
- Your personal motivation and ability to dedicate yourself fully to the projects and clients.
- The revenue opportunities were due to an increase in clients/employers old and new.
- Time efficiency due to following the right practices and getting more organized.
- Logical thinking and planning to establish the best protocols for business.
As a result, excellent cybersecurity goes beyond the core concept of defending the organization from a financial standpoint. It will also produce remarkable outcomes in terms of practicality and functionality.
10. It’s Easier Than Ever to Protect Yourself
As a freelancer, there are numerous reasons to strengthen your cybersecurity. But, more importantly, you should enjoy the fact that there is no longer any need to ignore it.
While cybersecurity threats are more prevalent than ever, it is also easier than ever to implement powerful defenses.
Ignoring simple principles might put you at risk, as evidenced by the fact that 40 percent of users (10) who employ bad password procedures are subject to password hacking.
In addition to preventing simple mistakes, freelancers should use anti-virus software, data encryption, two-factor authentication, and other similar measures.
The greatest software runs automatically, ensuring that you are constantly secured, and upgrading the operating system when requested is also a big step in the right direction.
There are numerous ways to secure yourself and the clients for whom you work. Once you’ve implemented those winning practices, you’ll be adequately safeguarded against any dangers for years to come, with no need for costly maintenance.
To be honest, disregarding cybersecurity should be a thing of the past if you want to make it as a freelancer. Now is the moment to make a change for the benefit of your finances, client appeal, and peace of mind.
Source: Freelance Work Guide
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