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Should Freelancers Sweat Cybersecurity?

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As you’re sipping an oat milk cortado in a coffee shop or laying on the couch next to a snoring dog, it’s easy for freelancers to become a bit removed from the everyday woes of most working people. Office politics? No thank you. Traffic? Poor things. Personal hygiene? Swore that off a long time ago.

But one menace is unavoidable whether you collect 1099s or W-2s: cybercrime.

Sorry to be a killjoy. But according to Gallop, 23 percent of U.S. households were victimized by cybercrime in 2018—more than any other reported crime. As a freelancer, you’re likely more exposed than most thanks to your constant connectivity, frequent new email contacts, and transient work patterns.

“Freelancers should absolutely worry about cybersecurity,” said Jessica Naziri, founder of technology and lifestyle site TechSesh.co. “Freelancers can inadvertently expose sensitive company data through unsecured Wi-Fi networks or poor password hygiene.”

Consider your own exposure too. What financial or personal info might hackers be able to access through that laptop you’ve toted to the coffee shop?

Cybersecurity may be a serious matter for freelancers to address, but it’s not rocket science—or, more aptly, it’s not writing a 40-page whitepaper on rocket science. Here’s what you should do to shore up your digital security.

Don’t use unprotected public Wi-Fi

Trust your barista with getting your foam just right, but not with your data.

“It cannot be stressed enough that connecting to public Wi-Fi can be very dangerous if you aren’t taking any precautions,” warned Mark Soto, owner of Milwaukee-based cybersecurity company Cybericus. “One precaution is to simply not use any public Wi-Fi, and use your phone as a hotspot when you’re not at home.”

Soto also suggested investing in a virtual private network or VPN. This software helps secure your network connection and shield internet activity in public. Unguarded, hackers can sneak onto your computer, grab whatever financial info, login credentials, and personal identification data they can get their hands on, and you might never know.

“It’s one of the best investments you can make, and it isn’t too expensive either,” Soto said. VPNs run from around $3 to $15 a month.

ALSO READ:  Visa, Mastercard and American Express suspend operations in Russia

Secure your home network

Sometimes the danger comes from inside the house.

“Hackers take advantage of the fact that home networks usually don’t have the same level of security as corporate networks,” said Naziri. “If your Wi-Fi is open, hackers can connect, spy on traffic that passes through them, and access confidential information from devices on the network.”

To avoid that disaster, the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s StaySafeOnline initiative offers a few tips, including:

  • Change the default name on your router to something that doesn’t make clear which home it belongs to.
  • Change the preset password on your router.
  • Select a security level for your router above WEP. StaySafeOnline recommends WPA2, if available, or WPA. You’ll find these options in the settings menu of your router software.
  • If your router allows it, create a separate password for guests—or have a whole different network for visitors.

Back it all up

Freelancers often learn the value of backing up their data from an elbow-meets-coffee-meets-keyboard scenario, but it’s worth reinforcing from a cybersecurity angle too. Ransomware is an increasingly common type of cybercrime where a hacker locks you out of your files until you pay to get them back.

“If you were to, for some reason, lose all your files on your computer tomorrow, how would that affect you?” Soto asked. “Did you have any saved backups for that logo that’s due tomorrow? Did you save that 2,000-word article you’ve been working on for the past two days anywhere?”

If you did, ransomware loses its bite. If you don’t, you might find yourself among the many people who, against the advice of authorities, just pay $200-$400 to get their files unlocked. Soto recommends using a cloud backup system, which typically costs anywhere from $2 to $15 per month, depending on how much storage you need. External hard drives can be a tad risky since hackers can access them when the drive is connected to your computer.

Install antivirus software

Given how long it’s been since the term “computer virus” has been top-of-mind, it’s easy to assume antivirus software is no longer a big deal. But here’s the thing: What we call antivirus is really anti-malware software. Malware is the umbrella term for all malicious software, so a good antivirus program will scan your computer for all sorts of digital threats.

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“Sadly, you do still need antivirus software,” Naziri said. “It doesn’t have to be the one preloaded [on your computer], but definitely get one.”

And just in case you felt safe and smug behind your MacBook, bad news: Experts agree that Macs need antivirus software too. It typically costs around $20 to $30 per year.

Practice good internet hygiene

Listen, do whatever you want with your personal hygiene. No one will be the wiser. But know that your internet hygiene has real consequences: One study found that human error was responsible for about 90 percent of cybercrimes.

In addition to regular backups and running your antivirus software, here are some everyday practices that keep you safer:

  • Create strong, unique passwords for every (yes, every) online account. Utilize a password manager to keep track of them all. Password managers safety store all of your login credentials from various websites and auto-populate the login fields on websites when you need them. That way, you can have passwords so strong that you can’t even remember them. Paid varieties run $20-$60 a year. Free versions exist, like Google Chrome’s built-in password manager, but as Soto points out, if someone hacks your Google account, they get they keys to your digital kingdom.
  • Don’t open any files you weren’t expecting. It’s a big ask for freelancers who might get a surprise lead via email, but every file should be regarded with suspicion. And definitely don’t open files with .exe extensions, Naziri said. Those are programs.
  • Hover over a link before you click in an unsolicited email or suspicious website. Make sure the URL you see appear in the lower-left corner of your browser matches the intended destination.
  • Update your software every time you get an alert. Software needs constant updating to stay ahead of hackers.

While it takes a bit of time and effort to protect yourself with smart cybersecurity habits, once you’ve implemented them, you don’t need to spend your time worrying about getting hacked or forking over a few hundred precious dollars to a hacker. Cybercriminals may come knocking, but when they don’t find an easy way in, they’re likely to leave you alone.

Cyber Security

Freelance Coding Jobs : The Opportunities for Freelancers in 2024

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Freelancing has become an increasingly popular career choice in recent years, particularly in the technology industry. With the rise of remote work and the growing demand for tech talent, freelance coding jobs are expected to grow in popularity over the next few years. In this blog post, we will explore the opportunities for freelancers in the coding industry in 2024.

The Rise of Remote Work

Remote work has become more popular than ever, especially in the tech industry. According to a study by Upwork, 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. With the rise of remote work, companies are more willing to hire freelancers to complete coding projects. Freelancers can work from anywhere, and companies can save money on office space and other overhead costs.

Increased Demand for Tech Talent

As technology continues to grow and evolve, the demand for skilled tech professionals is also increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 11% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. This demand for tech talent provides a great opportunity for freelancers to find work in the coding industry.

New Technologies and Platforms

As technology advances, new platforms and technologies are constantly being developed. Freelancers who stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For example, blockchain technology is expected to become more mainstream in the coming years, providing opportunities for freelancers with expertise in this area.

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Diverse Range of Projects

One of the benefits of freelance coding jobs is the diverse range of projects that freelancers can work on. From mobile app development to website design, freelancers can choose projects that match their skills and interests. This variety of work can help freelancers build a diverse portfolio and gain experience in a variety of areas.

Flexible Schedules

One of the biggest advantages of freelance coding jobs is their flexibility. Freelancers can choose their hours and work as much or as little as they want. This flexibility allows freelancers to work around other commitments, such as family or education and can provide a better work-life balance.

Conclusion

Freelance coding jobs are expected to grow in popularity in the coming years. The rise of remote work, increased demand for tech talent, new technologies and platforms, a diverse range of projects, and flexible schedules all provide opportunities for freelancers in the coding industry. Freelancers who stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace and can build successful careers in the tech industry.

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New Skills in Demand for Freelancers in 2023

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The world of freelancing is constantly evolving, and the skills that are in demand are always changing. In 2023, there are a number of new skills that freelancers will need to be successful.

1. Data Science

Data science is the process of collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data to extract insights. This is a rapidly growing field, as businesses are increasingly looking to use data to make better decisions. Freelancers with data science skills will be in high demand, as they will be able to help businesses collect, analyze, and interpret data to make better business decisions.

black laptop computer turned on showing computer codes
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2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is another rapidly growing field, and freelancers with AI skills will be in high demand. AI is being used in a variety of industries, including healthcare, finance, and customer service. Freelancers with AI skills will be able to help businesses develop and implement AI solutions.

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3. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is another essential skill for freelancers in 2023. As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, they are also becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Freelancers with cybersecurity skills will be able to help businesses protect their data and systems from cyberattacks.

close up view of system hacking
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4. Blockchain

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that is used to record transactions. This technology is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to revolutionize a variety of industries. Freelancers with blockchain skills will be able to help businesses develop and implement blockchain solutions.

ALSO READ:  Freelance Coding Jobs : The Opportunities for Freelancers in 2024
round silver and gold coins
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5. UX/UI Design

UX/UI design is the process of designing user interfaces and user experiences. This is a critical skill for freelancers in the digital age, as businesses are increasingly looking to create user-friendly and engaging websites and apps. Freelancers with UX/UI design skills will be able to help businesses create products that users love.

person writing on white paper
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6. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers. This is an essential skill for freelancers in any industry, as businesses are increasingly looking to create content that will engage their target audience. Freelancers with content marketing skills will be able to help businesses create content that drives traffic, leads, and sales.

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7. Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is the process of using digital channels to reach and engage customers. This is a broad field that includes a variety of disciplines, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing. Freelancers with digital marketing skills will be able to help businesses reach their target audience and achieve their marketing goals.

two women sitting in chairs using laptop computers
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8. Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants provide administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients from a remote location. This is a growing field, as businesses are increasingly looking to outsource administrative tasks to freelancers. Virtual assistants with a variety of skills will be in high demand.

photo of woman sitting near wooden doors
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9. Transcriptionist

Transcriptionists convert audio or video recordings into text. This is a skill that is in high demand in a variety of industries, such as healthcare, legal, and education. Freelancers with transcription skills will be able to help businesses transcribe audio and video recordings quickly and accurately.

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10. Translator

Translators translate text from one language to another. This is a skill that is in high demand in a globalized world. Freelancers with translation skills will be able to help businesses communicate with customers and partners in other countries.

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Conclusion

These are just a few of the new skills that will be in demand for freelancers in 2023. As the world of work continues to evolve, the skills that are in demand will also continue to change. Freelancers who are able to stay ahead of the curve and develop the skills that are in demand will be the most successful in the years to come.

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Cyber Security

Visa, Mastercard and American Express suspend operations in Russia

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Move by payment networks worsens country’s financial isolation over Ukraine invasion

Payment networks Visa, Mastercard and American Express have said they would suspend operations in Russia, dealing a new blow to the country’s financial system after its invasion of Ukraine. The decision followed a request by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday and threatens to further isolate a Russian economy facing crippling financial sanctions and a string of corporate boycotts.

San Francisco-based Visa said in a statement that it would immediately begin working with clients and partners in Russia to stop all transactions over the coming days. Once the process is completed, transactions by Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country, and cards issued elsewhere in the world will not work within Russia.

“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” said Al Kelly, chief executive of Visa. Mastercard said it was suspending its operations in Russia shortly afterwards on Saturday. American Express followed on Sunday, adding that it would also terminate all business operations in Belarus.

The payment networks blocked multiple financial institutions in Russia from using their networks last week following the imposition of sanctions. But the move to block all transactions will worsen the nation’s financial isolation. Russia’s central bank said on Sunday that credit cards using the Visa and Mastercard payments systems would stop functioning overseas after March 9.

But it has downplayed the impact of the suspension, suggesting all Visa and Mastercard cards issued by Russian banks would continue to work inside Russia as transactions could be handled by a domestic operator, according to Russia’s state news agency Tass. Some Russian banks, including Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, have said they might issue co-badged cards linked to Russia’s Mir and China’s UnionPay international payment systems. Some Russian banks already operate the UnionPay payment system, including Gazprombank and Rosselkhozbank, said Tass.

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The sanctions announced last week had already caused Russians in Moscow and other cities to rush to withdraw cash from the nation’s banks on concerns that payment card services offered by Visa and Mastercard would stop working. Long queues have formed at ATMs waiting for fresh deliveries of cash and some western experts have warned about the liquidity of Russia’s banking system.

  Earlier on Saturday, Zelensky called for the suspension of all commercial transactions, including by Visa and Mastercard, during a video call with US lawmakers. During the hour-long zoom call with Senators, Zelensky thanked the US for its support but called for more military aid and sanctions to isolate Russia. In a Twitter post following the call, senator Lindsey Graham said: “Anything that could hurt the Russian economy will help the Ukrainian people and may make this war more difficult for Putin.”

Mastercard, which has operated in Russia for more than 25 years, said that following its suspension of operations, cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network, and any card issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs. “We don’t take this decision lightly,” the company said in a statement, adding that it reflected “the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment”. The company said it would restore operations “when it is appropriate, and if it is permissible under the law”.

Last week, Mastercard and Visa disclosed that about 4 per cent of their net revenues in 2021 came from business conducted within, into and out of Russia.  Amid concerns the companies could face retaliatory action from Russian hackers following their action, Mastercard said it would remain vigilant to ensure the safety and security of the global payments ecosystem and its network.

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“Our cyber and intelligence teams will continue to work with governments and partners around the world to ensure that stability, integrity and resiliency of our systems continue to guide our operations and response to potential cyber attacks,” said the company. Earlier on Saturday, PayPal announced it would shut down all its services in Russia. “Under the current circumstances, we are suspending PayPal services in Russia,” said chief executive Dan Schulman. “PayPal supports the Ukrainian people and stands with the international community in condemning Russia’s violent military aggression in Ukraine.”

Via FT

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