Freelancers are often on the go. They have appointments all over the country and often have to use public networks. But how safe is that actually? Can you use a public network? How do you ensure that you have safer internet? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good solution, but is it really necessary? A few reasons why as a mobile freelancer you should be concerned about your privacy.
The use of public networks is not safe
Many freelancers go out. They take their laptop with them and work from a relaxed environment. Just to that one cozy coffee shop, or to a flex workspace in the city. Or how about answering a few business emails on the train? There are often public networks in these places that you can use for free. Handy, because then your connection costs nothing and you can continue working.
But these public networks are disastrous for your privacy. Others can watch the network and how can you be sure that you are really using a reliable network? Malicious parties can set up a fake network, for example under the name of a café. They log everything you do, send and open, including company sensitive emails, your passwords and even bank details. In fact, it is better to prevent the use of public networks.
Others can watch the network
When you log in to a public network, others can watch what you do. This only requires a so-called 'sniffer' or 'package sniffer'. All packets sent over the network can then be opened and viewed. These packages also contain sensitive information. That is why it is important that you never enter data on a public network.
A public network is only useful for opening reference books. Quickly find out what time your train leaves, consult the route planner and possibly watch some videos. Those are the things you can use it for. But it is better to use your own 3G or 4G network to open and send sensitive information.
As a freelancer, you are liable for data leakage
Good to know: companies are expected to handle their customers' data securely. And that also applies to one-man businesses, such as freelancers. Are you leaking data, because you have unsafe internet, for example? Then you may have to report to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) or you will be reprimanded. Customer data must be properly secured at all times. If you don't, you can be fined for that. In practice, that may not happen often, but you will be the one freelancer who will be fined, while preventing a data breach is easier than you think.
What exactly does the data breach notification obligation entail?
Every organization, both companies and governments, must immediately report this to the Personal Data Authority (AP) as soon as they detect a serious data breach. Sometimes the data breach must also be reported to the data subjects whose personal data has been leaked. What is a data breach? Access to, or destruction, alteration or, release of personal data at an organization. That is also not the intention of the organization or legally permitted.
Safe to work on the road
Are you unable to access your own network so quickly? Then you can still use a public network, but keep in mind that data can be logged. Your internet is a bit safer by using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your data, because the data sent goes through a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, the data is decrypted so that you can access and use the website. In the meantime, hackers have not had a chance to open your packages. The packages can be logged, but thanks to the encryption there is no useful information.