Cyber threats: why freelancers need to stay vigilant

Cyber security is becoming ever-more important in our digital age. It’s easy to assume it’s something only techies are interested in – or that only SMEs and big businesses need to worry about. But there are several key reasons why freelancers and the self-employed simply can’t afford to ignore cyber security – especially if technology is a big part of their business. Here are some of the main reasons.

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Why are freelancers at risk?

Freelancers are vulnerable to hacks and other cyber threats mainly because they generally hold a lot of sensitive client data that could be used for identity theft and other crimes. There is an even greater risk because cyber attacks can also be completely automated, which allows hackers to launch many more of them, probing for weaknesses in vulnerable websites, web-enabled smart devices and anything else that could hold sensitive data. Outdated operating systems are especially vulnerable to these kinds of attacks. That means Windows XP and even some newer systems that are not patched or up-to-date are easy targets.

What happens in a hack?

Weak security or unsupported networks can leave the door open to threats like ‘Ransomware’, which allows a hacker to break into your network, encrypt your files, then demand payment before you can get them back. According to Cybersecurity ventures, some of the most vulnerable targets for hackers are social media accounts, bank details, personal mail and online shopping details. According to their latest Cybersecurity report, cybercrime is likely to cost approximately $6 trillion annually by 2021.

Obstacles into opportunities

As the old saying goes, ‘problems create opportunities’. As the threat of cybercrime has grown, so too has the demand for cybersecurity. In fact, a 2017 report by Cybersecurity ventures found the cybersecurity market has grown 35 times in the last decade. This means not only is there more cybersecurity available to protect your business; if you are technologically minded, there could even be opportunities for new kinds of contracting work.

Training providers offer courses not only to help freelancers protect their own businesses, but also to retrain and support others with cybersecurity. And with the market booming, that could be a major advantage. You can find foundational courses to help you protect your own business with training providers like BPP. To support others with cybersecurity, however, you may need more specialist courses like those offered by leading IT training provider QA.

This blog is sponsored by BPP who are the first choice for training among many of the UK's leading professionals. They run an interactive online course on cybersecurity, which you can take in the comfort of your home. The course will help freelancers who want to learn how to minimise risk in today’s digital world, where cybercrime has become commonplace.

BPP are offering IPSE members a special 36 per cent discount for the course. Find out more here.

Meet the author

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Guest blog: BPP