A beginners guide to using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when working remotely

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a tool that allows you to securely connect to the internet from anywhere in the world. This is particularly useful when working remotely, as it helps protect your privacy and security while using public Wi-Fi networks. Here’s a beginner’s guide to using a VPN:

Choose a reputable VPN provider: There are many VPN providers to choose from, so it’s important to do your research and select a reputable provider that offers the level of security you need. Look for a provider that uses strong encryption protocols, has a no-log policy, and offers a user-friendly app.

Install the VPN app: Once you have chosen a VPN provider, you can download and install their VPN app on your device. The installation process is typically straightforward and should only take a few minutes.

Connect to a VPN server: After installing the VPN app, you can connect to a VPN server. Most VPN apps allow you to select a server location, which will determine your virtual location. Choose a server that is close to your actual location for the best connection speed.

Use the internet securely: Once you are connected to a VPN server, all of your internet traffic will be securely encrypted and routed through the VPN server. This means that your online activity will be hidden from your ISP, hackers, and anyone else who might be monitoring your internet connection.

Using a VPN when working remotely is important because it helps protect your privacy and security while using public Wi-Fi networks. By encrypting your internet traffic, a VPN can prevent hackers from accessing your sensitive information, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and other personal information. It can also help you bypass geographical restrictions and censorship, allowing you to access any website or content you want, no matter where you are.

Glossary of digital security terms

Here is a glossary of digital security terms:

Antivirus software: A software program that helps protect a computer from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Backup: A copy of data or information that is saved to a secondary location in case the original is lost or damaged.

Encryption: The process of encoding information to protect it from unauthorized access.

Firewall: A security system that helps prevent unauthorized access to a computer or network by blocking unwanted traffic.

Hackers: People who use their technical skills to gain unauthorized access to computer systems and networks.

Malware: Malicious software that is designed to harm or take control of a computer system.

Phishing: A type of fraud that uses email or other forms of communication to trick people into revealing sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Two-factor authentication: A security process that requires two methods of authentication in order to access an account. This could be a password and a security code sent to a mobile phone, for example.

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A secure network connection that is established over the internet. VPNs are used to protect sensitive information from being intercepted while it is being transmitted over the internet.

Virus: A type of malware that is designed to replicate itself and spread from computer to computer.

By understanding these terms, you can take steps to protect your digital assets and stay safe online.

How to maintain digital security as a freelancer

As a freelancer, protecting your digital assets and maintaining the privacy of your clients’ information is crucial. Here are some top tips for maintaining digital security as a freelancer:

  1. Use strong, unique passwords: Use a password manager to generate strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. This will help prevent hackers from accessing your accounts.
  2. Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts. When you log in, you will be required to enter a code sent to your phone or another device in addition to your password.
  3. Use a virtual private network (VPN): When working remotely, use a VPN to encrypt your internet connection. This will protect your online activities from being monitored and keep your data secure.
  4. Keep your devices and software up to date: Regularly update your devices, including your computer and smartphone, as well as the software you use, such as your web browser and antivirus software. This will help prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited.
  5. Backup your data: Regularly backup important files and documents to an external hard drive or cloud storage service. This will help you recover your data in the event of a hardware failure or data loss.
  6. Be mindful of email phishing scams: Be cautious when opening emails from unknown sources, as they may contain links to phishing sites or malware.
  7. Use encrypted communication tools: When communicating with clients, use encrypted communication tools such as Signal or WhatsApp to protect sensitive information from being intercepted.

By following these tips, you can help keep your digital assets and your clients’ information secure. Remember to regularly review your security practices and stay informed about new threats and best practices for digital security.

Why you must update your business software

As a business owner, it’s essential to stay on top of your technology and keep your software updated. Outdated software can leave your business vulnerable to security risks and negatively impact your day-to-day operations. Here are some reasons why you should regularly update your software and stay on top of your IT.

  1. Protect your business from cyber attacks: Outdated software can contain vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to gain access to your sensitive information and data. By regularly updating your software, you can close these vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of a cyber attack.
  2. Improve efficiency and productivity: New software updates often include improvements and bug fixes that can speed up your systems and make your processes more efficient. This can help save you time and increase your productivity, allowing you to focus on growing your business.
  3. Stay competitive: Keeping your software up to date will ensure that you have the latest tools and features to stay competitive in your industry. Having the latest technology can give you an edge over your competitors and help you better serve your customers.
  1. Ensure compatibility: Updating your software can also ensure that your systems are compatible with other tools and technologies you use in your business. This can help eliminate technical issues and ensure that your systems are working seamlessly together.
  2. Receive technical support: Software vendors often stop providing technical support for outdated versions of their software. By keeping your software updated, you can ensure that you have access to the latest technical support and resources in the event that you need help.

In conclusion, updating your business software and keeping on top of your IT is critical for the success and security of your business. Don’t ignore software updates, invest in the latest technology, and ensure that your systems are working at their best. Your business, and your customers, will thank you.

The most secure and convenient way to manage your passwords is…

When it comes to password management, there are three main options: website browsers, operating systems, and password manager software. Each option has its pros and cons, but password manager software is the most secure solution for password management.

  1. Website browsers: Most web browsers have a built-in password manager that saves your passwords for you. While this may seem convenient, browser password managers lack the security and features of dedicated password managers. They do not use encryption to protect your passwords, and they do not offer password sharing, password backup, or password auditing.
  2. Operating systems: Some operating systems, such as Apple’s macOS, have a built-in password manager. While these password managers are more secure than browser password managers, they still lack the features and security of dedicated password managers. They do not offer password sharing or backup, and they do not have the ability to generate strong passwords.
  3. Password manager software: Dedicated password manager software, such as 1Password, or Bitwarden, offers the most secure solution for password management. These password managers use encryption to protect your passwords and offer features such as password generation, password sharing, password backup, and password auditing. They also have the ability to automatically log you into your online accounts, saving you time and hassle.

In conclusion, password manager software is the best option if you’re looking for the most secure solution for password management. These password managers offer a higher level of security, more features, and a more convenient way to manage your passwords.

The benefits of using a password manager

A password manager is a tool that securely stores all of your passwords in one place, allowing you to access them with just one master password. With a password manager, you don’t have to remember every password for every website and app you use. Instead, the password manager can generate strong passwords for you and remember them for you, making it easier and more secure to manage your online accounts.

Here are some reasons why you should use a password manager:

Stronger security: Password managers generate strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. This helps prevent hackers from cracking your passwords and accessing your sensitive information.

Convenience: With a password manager, you only have to remember one master password. The password manager will automatically log you into your online accounts, saving you time and hassle.

Cross-device syncing: Most password managers can be used across multiple devices, such as your computer, smartphone, and tablet. This means that you can access your passwords from anywhere, making it easy to manage your accounts on the go.

Improved password habits: Using a password manager can help you establish better password habits. You’ll be encouraged to use strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, and the password manager will remember them for you.

Increased privacy: With a password manager, you don’t have to worry about your passwords being stored in a text file on your computer or written down on a piece of paper. The password manager uses encryption to protect your passwords, keeping them secure from prying eyes.

Overall, a password manager is a simple and convenient way to improve your online security. By using a password manager, you can reduce the risk of having your passwords hacked and protect your sensitive information.

CASE STUDY: Freelance Writer in a Ransomware attack

Meet Sarah, a freelance writer who writes blog posts and articles for various clients. Sarah worked from home, using her personal computer to store her work and communicate with clients.

One day, Sarah received an email from what she thought was a well-known software company. The email contained a special offer on the software and she clicked on it without hesitation.

After downloading the software, Sarah noticed that her computer was running slow and crashing frequently. She tried to access her work but found that all of her files were encrypted, and she was unable to open them.

Sarah soon realized that she had fallen victim to a ransomware attack. The software she had downloaded was actually malware that encrypted all of her files, and the hackers demanded a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.

Despite attempting to negotiate with the hackers, Sarah was unable to get her files back and was left with no choice but to start from scratch. She had not backed up her work and had lost months of writing that she could not recover.

The cyber attack had a devastating impact on Sarah’s freelance writing business. She lost many clients due to her inability to deliver work and her reputation was tarnished. Sarah learned the hard way that it is crucial to take digital security seriously and to regularly backup important data and files.

By following best practices for digital security, such as using strong passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, and regularly backing up important data, freelancers like Sarah can protect their work and avoid costly losses in the event of a cyber attack.

In the news: NETGEAR Nighthawk routers need an urgent firmware update

In the news this week NETGEAR announced that their Nighthawk routers need an urgent firmware update.
A vulnerability has been found that allows hackers to enter the Netgear Nighthawk routers (and, therefore the users wi-fi network) without first entering credentials.
Your router is an essential line of defence for your devices and must be kept up-to-date, and protected by an effective password.

Software code constantly evolves. Criminals find new ways to break into software, meaning code once considered rock-solid will, over time, need to be updated. So code writers have to keep on top of their software, which they do by releasing patches.

Should we be worried about software that is constantly updated? No, it’s a good thing. It shows they are actively looking for issues and resolving them. Instead, be cautious of any software that never/rarely releases patches.

For your part though, make sure you are running your updates.

How secure are your digital assets?

Digital Assets are your online accounts, website, online shop, booking system, domain name, social profiles etc…

Each of these assets has its own security need. Are you confident that you have the highest level of security in place for these assets?

Currently, the cybercrime threat level is high; the criminals know micro businesses like yours may not have their security ducks in a row, making you an active target.

👉🏻 This January, let’s get stuck in and review the security of your digital assets.

Need some support?

I believe that you, as a self-employed business owner, have unique needs regarding digital security. You are likely non-technical and untrained, yet 100% in charge of your own IT, your decisions and actions being yours alone.

Browse my website to learn more about

🎓 My bitesize training on business security – which includes a process to follow that helps you get the job done

❓ A free quiz to check how secure your business currently is

✔️ A free checklist featuring the seven most important jobs to have ticked off before you’re hit by cybercrime.

COMING SOON! A free workshop for self-employed business owners on business security. Details on how to register will be sent to my email list THIS Thursday. 

If Love Actually was made in 2023…

If Love Actually was made in 2023…

I took part in a Love Actually quiz last night, so a few days ago, I sat down to watch the film with my trusty notebook, looking for quiz-worthy moments.

While my heart, once again, broke for Karen after Bad Harry brought the his secretary that necklace, I was struck by how low-tech the world was back in 2003. VHS Cassettes, Square boxy TVs, and not a smartphone in sight.

For example, Mark stood on Juliet’s doorstep to convey his message and used giant handwritten cards and music on a portable CD, FM and Tape player. Like an analogue reel?

The romance of Jamie and Aurelia’s speaking in their native languages; now they’d be translated by Google – with a computerised voice cutting through those lingering moments.

The lake scene where they dive in to save the typewritten pages of Jamie’s book would now be obsolete through the uptake of ‘the cloud’.

The fission of office romances would have to navigate staff working from home via Microsoft Teams and the company WhatsApp groups today.

Digital security would play a starring role, as it does for everything today.

What if we could go back to those days almost twenty years ago?

If we did, we would find a simple world where burglars must physically get into our brick-and-mortar premises to steal our possessions. Instead, in 2003 our crime threats were local, and our front doors were our first line of defence.

Just like our everyday interactions, this has changed over the last twenty years. Today our valuables can be accessed anywhere in the world – often with just a password. As a result, we face a global threat of crime.

Cybercriminals know that small businesses are unprepared; if you fall into this demographic, you are currently their low-hanging fruit.

Today’s equivalent of locking our office doors is to have unique passwords, two-factor authentication and good tech hygiene.  

Small business owners are vulnerable, but it doesn’t need to be this way.

I am excited to be running a new series of security workshops in the new year exclusively for my email subscribers. The workshops will cater for the needs of the self-employed and provide lots of helpful advice to secure your business. Add your details to the form below, and you’ll be amongst the first to be invited.

Merry Christmas x

7 things to do before a cyber attack

Please enter your email address here; your checklist will soon be on its way.
You will also receive regular security tips and advice by email.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.
We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
You can unsubscribe any time.

Follow me @confidentdigital on Instagram