Freelancers, the gig economy and enforcing gig securityBy Staff Writer 14 April 2022 | Categories: feature articles
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The gig economy made up of freelance and project workers dipping their toes in and out of different companies and experiences is not a new concept, but it is definitely a thriving one. Mastercard has forecast that global gig economy transactions will grow by 17% by 2023 and a report by Brodmin found that the gig economy is expected to reach $455 billion by the same year.
However, it is not as simple as plug-and-play employees. As the World Economic Forum highlights, there are challenges around benefits, employee status and labour laws that need to be addressed in order to protect both worker and company. And, as Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy & Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, points out, there is the need to embed security throughout the gig worker process, otherwise both could be opening themselves up to unnecessary risk.
“It is the trend of the times to work on a freelance or project basis so that you can pick and choose the work and find a way of life that works for you,” she says. “However, there is a risk to both the gig worker and the company they are contracted to support. Companies do not have the same control over freelancers as they do over full-time employees when it comes to data and its security, so they need to put measures in place to protect the information.”
A good step in the right, secure direction is to avoid using free data and content storage repositories that have limited security and can be easily accessed by the wrong people. Even with the hassle and added complexity, it is worth adding trusted freelancers to corporate accounts or to restricted corporate folders so you always have line of sight into data storage, location and user access.
“Only provide freelancers with the data that they absolutely need,” says Collard. “Also, make sure that their access is removed once the project or contract is done. This is often forgotten, leaving freelancers with complete visibility into private folders, information and data. It is a challenge for large and small organisations alike.”
Put a process in place that instantly removes freelance access from a folder once a set timeline is up. Another way of tackling this issue is to treat all freelancers the same way as you do employees – issue them with a company device, provide them with compliance training and ensure they understand security mandates and requirements.
“If you are using a developer, for example, then you may want them to be immersed in the system, as this will be beneficial to both parties,” says Collard. “However, if you are using a freelance designer, you can probably bypass a lot of these requirements. The role they undertake and the access they need should ultimately determine what security protocols should be put in place. Different levels of freelancing understandably require different levels of security clearance.”
Another fact to keep in mind is that while most freelancers are unlikely to hack into your system, there will be that dangerous 1% who has this as their sole goal. By the same token, if a freelancer is compromised, then their account can be used to gain access to yours.
“Educate your freelancers and educate your staff,” concludes Collard. “This is the only way to keep security top of mind and embed solid security practices into every engagement and platform. If your people – be they full time or part time – understand the risks and respect the rules, then you will be building a solid and secure foundation.”
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