The global workforce has seen a sharp rise in independent workers turning to full-time freelancing. These entrepreneurial minds leverage the latest digital tools to turn a dwindling job market into lucrative careers.
But while freelancing has its benefits, the hazards of working online have skyrocketed in recent years. Freelancers are often forced to communicate with strangers online, exchanging files and personal details as part of their daily work. This reliance on virtually anonymous correspondence has made this growing sector the latest target for malicious cybercriminals.
Here are four digital safety tips for freelancers, from the global cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky Lab.
- Don’t trust clients that ask you to install suspicious software. If you really must use a third-party program, be sure to run the executable file (.exe) through a web antivirus engine. Also, double check to make sure that this file doesn’t give the client remote access to your computer.
- Make sure to disable macros on your Microsoft Office documents. Word docs, Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations — these can very easily be turned into vehicles for malware through macros. These are essentially executable files in themselves, hidden in seemingly harmless documents you otherwise wouldn’t think twice about downloading. As an extra layer of caution, consider using cloud-based services to edit your documents instead.
- Be mindful of phishing schemes. Keep an eye out for sneaky typos in URLs and make sure that websites requesting any login details are secure. Oftentimes scammers will attempt to dupe you into sending them personal information by parading as trusted sources like your Gmail or your bank. Does that URL say ‘metrobank’ or ‘rnetrobank’? Triple check to be sure.
- Speaking of banks, when being paid directly, never send photos of your debit or credit cards. There is a whole slew of ways to make secure payments online or on mobile, using nothing but your account number, so there really is no reason for clients to need this information. If they ask for the CVC/CVV or expiration date on your card, they are most surely up to no good.