Cybersecurity is an undervalued asset and costing freelancers much more than just the time it takes to change a compromised password. Hackers and scammers have spent the past decade developing sophisticated schemes to harvest data and succeeded in doing so from big platforms such as Canva and Facebook in recent years.
The final keynote yesterday from Launceston’s Freelance Festival was a Q&A session, moderated by Regina Lovic, and featuring digital security cabinet member at the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Dr Tristan Richards, and interaction design science specialist, Meredith Castles.
“There is a real shortage nationally of cyber skills, and there’s a desperate need to uplift that skill across the workforce,” Dr Richards told the conference. “If anybody would like to develop a career in cybersecurity, please pursue it.”
Basic cyber awareness training is available on the Australia Cybersecurity Platform, with programs aimed at organisations, business, and individuals. Programs are free and encourage users to secure their sensitive information online.
These skills are essential, especially as many workforces shift towards hybrid online models post-COVID. Where they can be confronted with genuine looking artefacts.
“You’ve got to remember that hackers are playing the long game,” Castles said, “distrust everything, always do a background check and never click links.”
“You can do your business on fake websites, and they’ll look identical to the real site,” Dr Richards added, “you can do your business regardless and all the while they’re harvesting your data in the background.
“You’ve got to look at the URL.”
Ways to avoid scammers accessing your data include protections like encrypted passwords with free programs like Nord Pass and Last Pass, and installing antivirus software and keeping it up to date.
“You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a week or month to keep yourself protected. Windows defender is free and does the job,” Castles said, “Clean my Mac is an inbuilt firewall that can clean any viruses if you’ve got one of those.”
If you ever get scammed yourself, the first thing to do is change your passwords and report the crime to Scamwatch and the Federal Police, and contact ID Care which is a free national service for victims of identity theft. Don’t forget to tell others who may have also had their information compromised in your breach.
“Be as transparent as possible,” Castles said, “if you’ve got customers or clients dealing with you it’s eroded trust.
“No matter how much money has been stolen, the main damage is the distrust.”
Main image by Zak Wheeler.