Privacy & security – a real-life problem for a freelancer

There’s no doubt you have to be security-conscious in today’s online world. Things like viruses, phishing emails and hacking are everyday events. And you have to guard against them. But can you take privacy too far?

Consider this …

You are a freelancer. You live and work alone. A not uncommon situation. You’ve password protected your PC and all your files are secure. While family and friends might know a little about your business and who you work for, nobody knows the specific details. After all, it’s your business and privacy is important, right?

But what happens if you’re taken seriously ill or involved in an accident? There’s nobody to answer your phone or reply to your emails. Clients can’t get hold of you. Perhaps they don’t even know where you live. Perhaps they’ve already paid you money. Perhaps you’re part-way through a big project. This can be a recipe for disaster.

If you’re reading this thinking it’s an unlikely situation, think again … because it happened to someone we know. She collapsed, was rushed to hospital and spent a month unconscious in intensive care. As well as friends being worried, her clients couldn’t understand why they couldn’t get hold of her.

We look at business continuity in our copywriting course, and encourage students to consider how they can keep their business running if the unexpected happens. But this is a tough one.

We recommend having a copywriting buddy to help at busy times or holidays. But you would need a high degree of trust to share your most confidential information with someone who is effectively a competitor.

So how do you mitigate this sort of risk? Large organisations might have a safe where key information and access codes are stored. The combination would only be known to a few trustworthy employees – but that’s a bit unrealistic for a homeworking freelancer.

But it does make sense to store key information and access details somewhere secure and ensure someone responsible and trustworthy can access it in an emergency.

Fortunately for this freelancer, the crisis was averted. She had a ‘buddy’ who was able to pick up her unfinished work. But it was four weeks before she was conscious and able to give someone the necessary information to access her computer and manage the situation. Some potential work was lost, but in the main, her clients were understanding.

Your freelance business is fragile. You put a lot of hard work and effort into building it up, so please don’t take risks with it. I’m sure this freelancer never imagined it could happen to her.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy


Picture credit: 123RF

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