Growth of the gig economy comes with a cybersecurity threat
The UK currently has around 2 million freelancers, and in the coming years the number of gig economy workers is forecasted to continue its meteoric rise. The growth of freelancing however comes with a threat to cybersecurity, warns an IT security expert.
Global digitalisation and widening opportunities to work independently fuel growth of the gig economy. Research carried out by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) revealed that in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France, the growth of freelancers had surpassed the growth of overall employment. The trend indicates that traditional businesses are losing control over their employees’ workplace security status, while the safety of sensitive corporate data is being laid into freelancer’s hands.
The expansion of the gig economy is also stimulated not only by freedom-seeking professionals but also lean-thinking businesses. Outsourcing tasks and responsibilities to freelance workers provides companies with more flexibility to control costs, working hours, and more. However, this also means that they become clients, and must open part of their internal resources to those who have limited or no direct liability to their business.
“Internally, companies develop strict security procedures for their employees and invest in expensive security systems. However, when it comes to outsourcing, companies lose control of any data they share with the outsiders,” says Naomi Hodges, Cybersecurity Advisor at Surfshark. “Generally, it is the same as leaving the backdoors unlocked in a fort.”
She says that when outsourcing business functions, most companies rely on confidentiality agreements. However, the increasing occurrences of data breaches demonstrate that potential financial and reputational losses are, in most cases, much higher than any agreement can cover. Even in an office setting, employees remain the weak link. Phishing attacks are incredibly frequent and, as practice shows, not even the big corporations are entirely safe from determined hackers. For a phishing scam to work, one leak is enough. However, the information security assurance gets even more complicated to maintain in case of freelancers.
The disregarded data security risk
A vast majority of freelancers choose to work remotely – in coworking spaces, cafes, or anywhere where there is decent Wi-Fi. They invest in getting the necessary tools for work, such as computers, software, and other devices. However, security of those devices is often omitted from their to-do lists.
“Almost anyone with some basic technical knowledge can crack the connection of public Wi-Fi after watching a step-by-step tutorial on YouTube. The hackers can see anything that is being sent to or coming from the computer using the network. If a freelancer does not encrypt its traffic, all their documents and files are put on public display,” explains Naomi Hodges.
The growth of the gig economy means that the number of vulnerable individuals is also growing. Freelancers who do not protect their devices are putting themselves and their clients at risk of data breaches, leaks of confidential information, and more.
How to secure freelancers
Companies usually enforce security and privacy on a network level. Since it gets complicated to replicate it when working with freelancers, business should require them to have security implemented at least on the device level, as even one vulnerable device can easily allow accessing confidential files and accounts. Naomi Hodges says, that although there are several solutions to encrypt any device’s data traffic, virtual private network (VPN) software is one of the most advanced and easiest to use. In addition to protecting from online snooping, VPN shields from malware attacks and surveillance.
“It does not matter if a freelancer is a business consultant, an engineer, or a photographer. They all work with information which can be classified as sensitive to their clients,” explains Naomi Hodges. “Usually, it’s not too difficult to indicate their clients simply by looking at their portfolios. They all count on luck that nobody is interested in his or her files, but that is why data breaches happen.”
A reliable VPN service can benefit both the freelancer and their employer. As an inexpensive tool, it can offer secure browsing while on public or home Wi-Fi, as well as ensure the user’s digital privacy. Connecting to a specific country’s service allows the user to work seamlessly while traveling abroad, especially if they need information which is only available in their home country.
If business managers who work with outside suppliers, such as freelancers or agencies, do not require them to have any security assurance apart from confidentiality agreements, it should be a responsibility of a reliable freelancer to ensure that their client’s data is safe.
Industry: Cyber Security News
- DevSecOpp- Security design / review consultant. SC Clearance. London
CH7838 London £70,000 DevSecOpp- Security design / review consultant. DevSecOpp- Security design / review consultant will ensure that newly created, public facing apps are secure by design and by default by aligning them to current / best practice security policies and standards into the design phases. The individual must have a technical software / application development background with specalist experinece in secure architecture design. (Frameworks, processes, best practice etc) Practical experience translating and ensuring that the OWASP top 10, ISO27001, HMG frameworks requirements are reviewed and embedded into project designs which are implemented is essential. Experience working projects through a full development lifecycle is key. You will work along side the design and project teams to idenitfy and mitigate risks throughout the design phases. This is a permanent role. SC clearance is essential as is the ability to get to the London office. (When appropiate #covid) Security DevSecOps consultant. To arrange a discreet call book via https://calendly.com/chris-holt/devsecopp--security-design-review-consultant
- SPLUNK SOC Analyst level 3, London.
SPLUNK SOC Analyst level 3, Must be able to commute to the City of London. Onsite role. Security clearance needed. The SPLUNK SOC Analyst level 3 must have current experience working within a SOC environment with specific experience using a range of tools and techniques to investigate security incidents. Current experience with Splunk is essential. any additional experience Individuals with Elastic Security SIEM are highly desirable. Any of the following certifications are desirable Splunk Phantom certified admin, Splunk Core Certified Power User / Advanced, Splunk Certified Enterprise Security Admin, etc The role will include, but not be limited to working with sophisticated information security tools, investigating security incidents, incident management, technical escalation, process improvement, research into the latest threats, reporting etc The individual MUST currently be living in the UK and be able to achieve UK security clearance. (SC) This is a permanent role To arrange a call with Chris Holt https://calendly.com/chris-holt/arranged-call-with-chris-holt-elastic-siem-engineer-soc Chris.Holt@dclsearch.com
- ISO 27001 & Business Continuity Security Specialist, End User
- United Kingdom
CH7828 ISO 27001 & Business Continuity Security Specialist, End User, £70,000 United Kingdom ISO 27001 & Business Continuity Security Specialist needed to join a Cyber team within an end user. The ISO 27001 & Business Continuity Security Specialist will have end to end responsibility for the information security and Business Continuity management system. ISMS/BCMS. Both from an information security and technical security perspective working alongside the CISO. Experience must include, but not be limited to; a mix of Information Security standards, frameworks, audit principles, controls / policies and the management and use of the technical tooling to achieve compliance. ISO 22301, ISO 27001, NIST Cybersecurity Framework etc An ideal candidate will be working within an end user environment with a cyber consultancy background. Experience taking a company through accreditation is highly desirable Experience managing internal stakeholders, technical teams and external third parties essential Flexible working, very occasional travel to London office This is an exclusive role to DCL Search & Selection. Looking to interview immediately. https://calendly.com/chris-holt/iso-27001-business-continuity-security-specialis
- PCI- DSS Security Consultant, End User
PCI- DSS Security Consultant needed to join a Cyber team within an end user. The PCI- DSS Security Consultant will have end to end responsibility for PCI - DSS and its continuing certification. Both from an information security and technical security perspective working alongside the CISO. Experience must include, but not be limited to; a mix of Information Security standards, frameworks, audit principles, controls / policies and the management and use of the technical tooling to achieve compliance. PCI objectives / 12 key requirements, OWASP top 10, ISO 27001, NIST Cybersecurity Framework etc An ideal candidate will be working within an end user environment with a cyber consultancy background. PCI Cloud compliance, specifically someone with experience taking PCI-DSS from on premise into the cloud is HIGHLY desired. However, someone with Solid PCI experience with a strong technical background which include Cyber / Secure by design etc would be considered. Experience managing internal stakeholders and external third parties essential. Flexible working, but with the ability to get into London. This is an exclusive role to DCL Search & Selection. 1st stage interviews to happen the week of the 14th September Arrange a call with Chris on https://calendly.com/chris-holt/arrange-a-call-chris-dcl-pci-compliance