If you’re a freelance blogger, your computer and smartphone are your livelihood as well as the tools of your craft.
They’re where you store your work, where you do your work, and they’re how you access the internet to get more work. So it’s safe to say your computer and phone are among your most valuable and important possessions.
And you need to protect them. Vigilantly.
Other people can recover much easier if they’re the victim of a security breach or a data leak due to a hacker. The worst most civilians have to worry about is identity theft.
But if something like this happens to you, a freelance blogger, at the very least you’ll lose several days trying to fix everything back up and checking to make sure everything is there. At the worst, your security vulnerabilities could tarnish your professional reputation for years to come.
Don’t panic, though. Here are some simple ways to improve your online security and protect your career from damage:
1: Guard your clients’ information
When you work for a client, they’re putting their trust in you for some task, whether it be a large one or a small one. Don’t violate that trust.
If your clients give you important information, the easiest and best thing to do is don’t even let anyone know you have it. Don’t divulge that information in any way, and take all the steps you can to protect it.
It’s often best to simply have a safely kept print copy to work from, then make sure to keep backup copies of the files on a flash drive or two that are also kept somewhere safe. If the file was important to you, you’d want it well protected — so do the same for your clients. You cannot presume to know precisely how important a file is, even if a client tells you!
2: Take basic security steps
- Use complex passwords that you change often.
- Update your computer whenever new updates are available.
- Use a computer security program (this is an absolute must if you want your computer to last more than a few months).
- Keep up to date with the latest developments on internet security, because everything could change over the course of a few days and you never know when you might be at risk.
3: Protect your blog and other accounts
Your blog and social media accounts are your connections to the world and to your work. Make sure they’re protected in the strongest way possible.
Consider installing extra security plugins or add-ons to your WordPress account. Double check your Facebook privacy settings are exactly how you want them. Do the same with any other major websites that you use.
This should also go for any online accounts you have. Try to get rid of any accounts you don’t use anymore so you can’t be traced. Change passwords every once in a while, and don’t give anyone you know access to anything.
This is your reputation and your livelihood you’re dealing with. It’s worth the time investment of a day to not have to worry about this stuff so much in the future.
4: Protect yourself outside your home
Being a freelance blogger and working from home can get lonely, so there will naturally be times when you’d rather go out and do your work in a library or a café, and luckily those places will have a wireless network that you can use.
The only problem is that most public networks are very unsafe and risky to use, as hackers can easily intercept data being transferred over an insecure network. This can include your passwords, usernames, financial data, any client information you download, a great deal of correspondence, and other things you don’t want people to have access to.
The best way to protect yourself if you go out a lot or travel while working is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). It will create an encrypted connection that acts like a tunnel between you and an outside server. This will be safe so you can use the internet privately and freely.
If your client’s data is compromised on a public network, you may well lose that client (and others, if your furious client goes public about the security problem). It’s just as important to secure the clients you already have as it is to gain new ones.
You also need to protect yourself so you don’t waste valuable time fighting off identity theft instead of creating content. A Virtual Private Network will give you this protection and eliminate one of the threats to your income stream.
If you want to check out some different VPNs that might work well for you, take a look at these reviews: http://securethoughts.com/vpn-review/
5. Back up everything
You don’t want to lose all of your writing. It’s absolutely essential to back up your files — and back them up often — so that you’re never pushed back more than a day or two if your latest copies are damaged or lost.
Try several different backup methods until you find the ones that work best for you. For example:
- Back your files up in redundant hard drives on your computer, which is a strong and ultimately convenient method — but an expensive one, and it puts all your files in one place.
- Buy a flash drive of a large enough size to hold all your important files (luckily for freelance bloggers, text files are very small). Back up your files to the flash drive whenever you’re working and keep it in a safe place.
- Consider using a cloud backup solution. The downside is that files uploaded to the cloud are not in your absolute control anymore and should the cloud come under attack there’s very little you can do about it. On the upside, if something happens to your house or all of your electronics suddenly malfunction, you’ll still be able to retrieve all your important files from the cloud.
I hope these tips help you keep up your security so the only thing you have to worry about is writing. Your client data and your own work deserve to be protected!
When was the last time you did a security review on yourself? Are there any other tips that you think might help freelance bloggers with their security?