As a freelancer or small business, it’s crucial to be prepared for any potential cyber security attacks and know the key risk areas so you can take the necessary steps to protect them. A cyber attack on your business could not only be bad for you but could negatively impact your clients, too.
In addition to having good antivirus or anti-malware installed on all your applicable devices, here are 3 other sensible things to consider to help keep your (and your client’s) data and digital assets safe, secure and private.
Know your digital assets and have a plan
It’s a good idea to start by reviewing all your online accounts and digital assets – know what you have, what you actually use, when, and on what device. You should then consider what accounts are the most important to you, where the most valuable and sensitive data is held, and what backup you have in place should something go wrong (i.e. is the data on an external hard drive or backed up in a cloud?).
Now is a good time to delete any online accounts you no longer use and also consider removing any apps from your personal devices that are work-related only. It’s also essential that all your software (especially your antivirus software) is fully up to date.
From here, you can then put in place a ‘disaster recovery’ plan – i.e. the process you (or your team) should follow if something goes awry – even if that’s as simple as having backup email accounts in case you are locked out.
Good housekeeping of your digital assets and regularly reviewing them is a key part of a robust cyber security plan.
Use strong and unique passwords
Password breaches are still where most cyber crimes occur, so it’s important that you use strong passwords in all your online dealings. Where possible, it’s recommended that you use a mix of upper and lower case, numbers and special characters.
Most crucially, you should avoid using personal details such as your name, pet names and dates of birth as these can be picked up by scammers elsewhere on the internet (for example, your social media profile).
You should also use different passwords for different accounts. This protects you from scammers having access to everything should there be a password breach on just one of them.
You can better manage these by using a secure online password manager where you can save and manage all your passwords. They can also generate strong, more secure passwords, so you don’t have to come up with them all by yourself.
Take good care of data
Firstly, it’s essential that you are aware of and comply with any data protection rules and regulations in your jurisdiction that apply to how you handle data as well as that of your clients (for example, if they are overseas, in the EU (GDPR) or California (CCPA) or if different rules apply to them or their business).
Naturally, if you move data around frequently, there is an added risk that it can be intercepted and fall into the wrong hands. That’s why sharing files online should always be done securely via reliable, trustworthy and secure services, and if it’s sensitive information, preferably encrypted.
As a freelancer or small business owner, you likely don’t have an IT department to warn you of any potential threats. Therefore, the onus is on you to ensure your files are in order and you are only processing or storing data that you absolutely need to. Good file management and vigorous internal processes that are reviewed regularly are key to combating, sadly, all too common cyber attacks such as account takeovers (ATO) or denial-of-service (DoS) and fraud such as phishing and identity theft.
When dealing with financial data, invoicing clients, for example, it can help if everything is kept in one centralized place and is as streamlined as possible. By using good invoice software, you can save time, money and hassle by avoiding manual data entry and automating recurring invoices.
Invoice Ninja, a leading (and secure) free invoicing software for small business invoicing, online payments, tracking expenses and billable tasks, saves you time by automatically billing long-term clients with recurring invoices. It also has a client-side portal where clients can securely view their invoices, quotes, payments, documents, and all transaction history.
Furthermore, you can also host Invoice Ninja on your own server if you want.