As if the ongoing coronavirus pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with it, professionals must now also strengthen defenses against an increase in phishing and cyber attacks related to COVID.
What is a phishing attack?
A phishing attack is a specific category of cyber attack. They aim to trick the victims into opening an email, text message, or even an instant message sent by an attacker pretending to be a trusted sender.
Usually, the recipient receives a link to click. As a rule, they are then asked to provide confidential information such as credit card details or login information.
This may sound like something you would never fall for, but as a freelancer you trust us. These sophisticated attackers can be extremely convincing.
The facts and figures of phishing attacks
According to a recent study by cyber security expert Centrify, the majority of UK decision-makers are preparing for a surge in COVID-related phishing attacks.
The survey includes large and medium-sized companies across the country, with 64% expecting attacks to increase.
The same results also show that after lockdowns across the UK, 52% expect cyber attacks to increase.
Lack of cyber preparation
Despite concerns, Centrify found that 37% have no plans to train employees on the cybersecurity risks organizations face. They also do not have current data management policies.
Even more worrying, an additional 37% admitted they had inadequate systems to verify the identity of employees accessing company data.
According to Howard Greenfield, Centrify’s chief revenue officer, COVID-motivated email, SMS and web-based phishing attacks have not been uncommon over the past year.
“So far we have seen cyber attack campaigns under the guise of charities, government grants and business support programs that have already misled thousands of victims into disclosing sensitive information such as login information and payment details.”
He added the importance of companies adopting a zero-trust approach to protecting their data. Greenfield urges companies to ensure that leaked credentials do not necessarily result in a data breach.
Does it affect freelancers?
As a freelancer, you can read this and feel like these types of issues only really affect larger companies.
You would rightly assume that the risk for companies is certainly higher than that of freelance professionals. In reality, nobody is completely safe from cyber attacks.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some advice on how to protect yourself from online fraud and cyber attacks.
Our top cyber security tips for freelancers in 2021
International Data Corporation (IDC) expects global security spending to exceed $ 174 by 2024. That would be an average annual growth rate of more than 8% between 2020 and 2024 (Forbes).
If you don’t have a big budget for cybersecurity, there are a few simple things that can help keep your business safe.
Make sure all passwords are secure
Many websites, systems, and software now ask you to create a password that is a unique combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Browsers like Chrome have a feature that suggests strong passwords. It’s even stored in a password manager for you.
Change the passwords regularly
Changing your passwords regularly is a great way to improve your online protection. Experts recommend doing this every three months. So set a reminder so that you never forget to do it.
Where it is an option, it is also worth using two-factor authentication. With these digital tools, you can implement an extra layer of security.
When you log in for the first time, additional login information will be requested, e.g. E.g. an SMS with a code that you have to provide.
Invest in antivirus software
Some people make the mistake of thinking that a firewall provides adequate cyber protection, but quite often it is not.
Build up your defenses by investing in an antivirus that scans websites, emails, and downloads for potential risks.
Keep all of your devices and software up to date
Make sure you stay current with system and software updates on all devices. This helps them stay effective against current threats as they evolve.
Otherwise, you might be vulnerable to attack despite other security measures.
Always work in a location with a secure connection
One of the most appealing things about being a freelancer is the ability to remain flexible when choosing where to work from.
Sometimes it can be from the comfort of your own sofa. In other cases, it comes from a local coffee shop or hotel lobby on the other side of the world.
As a result, you will frequently change the network you work on and not all of those networks will provide a secure connection.
To protect yourself against cybercrime more effectively, make sure you are using a secure connection whenever you can.
Your online presence and data is extremely valuable, so it is important to stay vigilant, Freelancers!
Are you still thinking about freelance work? Read our articles and guides on how to get started as a freelancer.