Although we’re not stunt parachutists, web workers are not without their own professional risks. After all, apart from the technology, even the industries and businesses we work don’t offer 100% reliability and security – which is probably why many people are afraid to telework in the first place. Too many risks.
To lower these risks, we need to have some safeguards in place. What are the things that web workers need to protect and how can we do that?
One of the first things you need to protect is your web working equipment. Naturally, this means your computer and the data stored inside it.
Since web workers spend a lot of time online, we are more prone to all sorts of malware such as viruses, worms, and spyware. These destructive bits of software are scattered around the web like landmines. Protective measures against these include anti-malware programs and spyware scanners. Just make sure that they are regularly updated.
It also helps to know which websites are likely to carry security threats, as well as to ensure the security of your Wi-fi connection. Browser add-ons such as AVG Safe Search and McAfee SiteAdvisor show safety ratings for search engine results, to prevent you from clicking on malicious links. They slow down your search results a bit, but that’s the price you pay for security.
Having a secure, updated backup of all your important data also makes a difference. You probably have important data such as invoices, client records, and completed projects in your hard drive. You’ll need to store copies of them outside the computer if you want the data to be available in case your computer isn’t. An online storage service or an external hard drive can come in handy during such circumstances.
Apart from concerns about your hardware and software, you’ll need to make sure that you also have financial protection. Even web workers who aren’t freelancing might find themselves an easy target during layoffs since they’re not in the office on a daily basis. Because of this, it’s important that every web worker has an emergency fund. It’ll be your source of funds in case you’re having a slow month or an unexpected financial emergency arises (like when your computer breaks down or you lose your biggest client). In other words, the emergency fund is your financial safety net. Having 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses stashed away in a savings account is often good enough, but the amount depends on what your monthly expenses are and how many dependents you have.
Insurance is also something that web workers need, in case they are independent contractors or their employers don’t offer it automatically. Having medical insurance can come in handy should you get sick. Home insurance is also useful, especially for people working from home, since they both live and work in that space.
Identity protection is also something that we should be concerned about, especially since so much of our information is based on the web. True, web workers are probably too savvy to fall for phishing scams, but how much information is in public view? We all have our online identities, and while transparency can be a good thing, it’s something that others can take advantage of.
First of all, we need to be careful about how much data we publicly expose, whether it’s through the web apps we use or our social networking profiles and blogs. If someone gets to know us too well via our Facebook profile, they might be a step away to discovering our password (the solution: use a randomized password). It might also help to keep limited readership of your profile data – make sure that only your approved contacts can read all the contents. Also, we need to be aware of signs showing how much we can trust an online service with our personal information.
Web working may not be the safest way to earn a living, but there are several simple things we can do to prevent mistakes and unfortunate incidents.
What measures do you take to keep your web work secure and stable?