These days, more and more workers are finding themselves self-employed. In fact, data suggests that by 2020, 40% of all U.S. workers will be freelancers.

You already know why freelancers are great. You’re skilled at what you do and you provide a fresh perspective. Because you’re not a bona fide employee, you cost less. Organizations don’t have to pay for benefits such as health insurance or 401Ks, or supplies like a laptop.

With the rise of remote technology (thank you, internet) and the accelerating of networks, it’s not uncommon for companies to work with freelancers who are stationed all across the globe. While these working relationships provide a lot of utility, they are not without their challenges, specifically regarding the secure passing of data.

Security Breach Issues

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five-odd years, you’re almost certainly aware of that data heists are becoming an increasingly common occurrence. In recent years, companies such as Target, Sony and Anthem have fallen victim to major hacks.

Indeed, proprietary data is important. Why else would hackers risk so much to steal it? When businesses choose to work with you, they need to know you’ll be helping to keep them and their information safe.

Here are 10 ways you can securely communicate with your clients.

1) LastPass

Over the course of the day, we log into countless platforms and accounts. And all of those services ask us to change our passwords every few months. But wait — there’s a catch. It can’t be any of your last 10 passwords, you need two capital letters and a symbol, and you have to make all your passwords different.

Enter Last Pass, a free password management solution. It stores your passwords so you don’t have to spend your time resetting each account when you invariably forget your login information.

2) 1Password

If you’re not a fan of Last Pass or are looking to take a look at another option — maybe one with a better UI — there’s 1Password. The app allows you to manage your passwords to your ever-increasing number of accounts and can even help you come up with new secure passwords when you open even more accounts. Premium users are able to log into all of their accounts across all of their devices.

3) Virtual Private Networks

You can use a virtual private network (VPN) provider such as TorGuard (packages start at $4.99/month) to establish a remote connection between your freelancers and your home office. Once that’s done, traffic sent between the two locations is encrypted, meaning would-be thieves wouldn’t be able to make sense of your data even if they found it.

4) Two-factor logins

You can’t withdraw money from the ATM without your bank card and your PIN number. That illustrates the concept of two-factor authentication. Essentially, two-factor logins make it incredibly difficult for anyone but the intended end user to access a system. All sites are different, but generally speaking, you can enable two-factor authentication on most platforms by adjusting your settings. Consider utilizing this technology to ensure communications are secure.

If you aren’t familiar with two-factor logins, here’s a good primer to get you started.

5) Setting up a personal domain for Google Drive or Dropbox

If you find yourself regularly using either Dropbox or Google Drive to collaborate, consider setting up a personal domain. Since you own the domain, you are able to put in whatever security measures you see fit to protect your data. You can also grant access to clients or other freelancers as you see fit. Google Apps for Work, for example, starts at $5 per user/month.

This way, only authorized individuals will be allowed to view your proprietary data. And as an added bonus, your freelancers won’t be able to access your personal files.

6) WhatsApp

Have a quick question for a client or freelancer? You can use a service such as WhatsApp to securely communicate via any mobile device. The service is free to use, so you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank, either.

7) Trello

A web-based collaboration platform based on kanban scheduling, Trello is helpful for collaborators working on a multi-step project. Essentially, you create cards on Trello boards and can move them from different lists, e.g., “to-do,” “doing” and “done.” You control the folks who have access to your Trello boards, so your data there remains protected.

Trello can be used by internal workers and freelancers alike to work on projects synchronously or asynchronously. The platform is so easy to use if you have moderate computer skills you should be a pro in no time.

8) Slack

One of the most popular enterprise messaging tools on the market, Slack currently boasts a whopping $2.8 billion valuation. You can use Slack to keep on the same page with your client in real time or asynchronously. 

9) Basecamp

One of the inaugural collaboration platforms, Basecamp has satisfied users for years. Easy to use and intuitive, the project management software gives freelancers and companies the ability to trade and track documents.

10) Meet in person

What better way is there to ensure you’re collaborating securely than by stopping by a client’s office to work on a project together? It’s true your clients might be busy, but it wouldn’t hurt to extend an invitation.

While technology has helped our work lives in many ways, nothing will ever replace good, old-fashioned face-to-face interactions.

If you still have concerns about the security of your clients’ sites, you can also check for specific business certifications, which may indicate that they have met certain IT standards and protocols. However, if you remain in doubt, it’s best to not give out sensitive information.

What other ways do you like to protect yourself as a freelancer? Tell us in the comments section below!

Image by Viktor Hanacek