Why a VPN is desperately needed for mobile freelancers
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 really? Can you use a public network? How do you make sure your internet is safer? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good solution, but is it really necessary? A few reasons why you should be concerned about your privacy as a mobile freelancer.
Using public networks is not safe
Many freelancers go out and about. They bring their laptop and work from a relaxed environment. Just to that one cozy coffee shop, or to a flexible workplace in the city. Or how about answering a few business emails on the train? Often there are public networks in these places, which you can use for free. Handy, because then your connection costs nothing and you can continue to work.
But these public networks destroy your privacy. Others can monitor the network and how can you be sure that you are really using a reliable network? Malicious persons can set up a fake network, under the name of a cafe, for example. They log everything you do, send and open, including company sensitive emails, your passwords and even bank details. In fact, it is better to avoid using public networks.
Others can watch the network
If you log in to a public network, others can watch what you do. All that is really needed is a so-called 'sniffer' or 'package sniffer'. All packets sent over the network can then be opened and viewed. Sensitive information is also stored in these packages. That is why it is important that you never enter data on a public network.
A public network is only useful for accessing reference books. Quickly look up what time your train leaves, consult the route planner and possibly watch some videos. Those are the things you can use it for. But for accessing and sending sensitive information, it is better to use your own 3G or 4G network.
As a freelancer, you are liable for data leaks
Good to know: companies are expected to handle their customers' data securely. And that also applies to sole proprietorships, such as freelancers. Is your data leaking, for example because your internet is unsafe? Then you may have to report to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) or you may be reprimanded. Customer data must be properly secured at all times. If you don't, you could be fined. This may not happen often in practice, but you will be just that one freelancer who will be fined, while preventing a data breach is easier than you think.
What exactly does the obligation to report data breaches mean?
Every organisation, both companies and governments, must immediately report to the Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) as soon as they discover 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 neither the intention of the organization nor allowed by law.
Working safely on the road
Do you not have access to your own network that quickly? Then you can still use a public network, but keep in mind that data can be logged. Your internet is already a bit safer by using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your data, because the transmitted data passes through a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, the data is decrypted so that you can access and use the website. Meanwhile, hackers haven't had a chance to open your packages. The packets may be logged, but thanks to the encryption, there is no useful information in them.