Growing your business in the modern digital economy is an exciting task. You have a lot of freedom to select from a vast pool of talent offering their expertise on remote work platforms or through your network.
With effective and established onboard and offboarding best practices, these freelancers make a significant contribution to the success of your business. Onboarding is not solely about getting a freelancer started on a project. It’s also about connecting freelancers with your brand, culture, and connecting them with the team which helps them feel valued from the beginning.
Freelancers face a challenging balance of delivering a valuable work product, while working independently as an outsider. When they get out of sync, errors may increase and project results may suffer. A strong onboarding process, an understanding of your company values, and clear guidelines helps keep them in sync from day one.
Making the collaboration a success requires you to have an understanding of the components that make up your interaction with the freelancer. On a general level, these could be categorised under: your business, your project and your cybercapacity.
This category entails providing a comprehensive introduction to your brand and company culture. Taking the time to connect the freelancer with the team ensures that they are prepared to work in sync and feel like they are providing value within a larger collective, despite the physical distance.
Ensure that the freelancers you hire do not put your valuable client data at risk. Especially as you have worked hard to build and radiate digital trust - to win clients and develop a competitive advantage. One way to do that is through the establishment of a privacy-first culture, which we go more in depth with in our previous article.
Help the freelancer get up to speed faster and understand expectations by providing project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information. This aligns your visions and helps the freelancer ask clarifying questions before diving in. In addition to project background documentation, you may consider including:
You may want to give the freelancer a list of programmes and applications, so they can make time to familiarise themselves. While considering access, ask yourself:
Whilst independent professionals provide and use their own tools to do their work, they may need access to company systems for situations like delivering assignments or receiving project-related information. Ensure that you have checklists of any systems, applications, and programmes they may need to access like VPN or a company file sharing system. Use these to check how familiar the freelancer is with a programme and the connected compliance, also for applications used widely across industries.
In addition, it is important to explain the offboarding process and connected responsibilities already in the onboarding process.
Cybercapacity can be viewed as the umbrella covering all the components you need to safeguard your business in cyberspace. The capacity-building components underneath this umbrella can be divided into two: cybersecurity and privacy (which we go into greater depth here).
For now, when it comes specifically to your onboarding practices, ensure that you have the necessary Data Processing Agreements (DPAs) in place, updated, and signed.
A data processing agreement is a legally binding contract that states the rights and obligations of each party concerning the protection of personal data. DPAs are required for GDPR compliance, but they also give you the assurance that the data processor is qualified and capable, platforms and freelancers alike.
A data processor is another company you use to help you store, analyse, or communicate personal information. For example, if you are a health insurance company and you share information about clients via encrypted email, then that encrypted email service is a data processor. Or if you use a platform, e.g. Upwork, Fiverr to hire talent, this platform would also be a data processor.
But what should be included in a data processing agreement? In summary, here’s what you need. For details see GDPR Article 28, Section 3.
These important points take us straight to the offboarding process.
A standardised offboarding process helps you leave a professional impression and creates a sense of completion once your collaboration with a freelancer is finished. The offboarding process is closely linked to onboarding and thereby also touches upon the three collaboration components outlined above: your business, your project and your cybercapacity.
A well-organised approach helps your business as a whole in several ways:
In the hyperconnected world of today, the points above eventually impact any future collaboration you may have. Leaving a lasting impression to your freelancer means you are encouraging positive word to spread about your business. In order to achieve this, during the offboarding process, begin by focusing on the primary framework of interaction with the freelancer - your project.
As we outlined above, the onboarding process is closely related to offboarding. It is therefore useful to revisit the onboarding activities and the initially provided project documentation. Did you meet the goals you established at the beginning of the project? What were the lessons learned? And what was the value produced? Listen attentively to the freelancer’s point of view, to understand what impressions they are walking away with.
In order to leave a lasting impression and effectively wrap up the project from beginning to end, it is important to approach the freelancer as a valued part of your core team at all stages of the collaboration.
Lastly, to finalise your collaboration from a technical point of view, revisit the checklist of systems, applications and third-party providers that you worked with in the beginning, in order to ensure that:
Furthermore, make sure that your offboarding process includes compliance steps in line with your country and industry. In case of COBRA non-compliance in the US, for example, the company and the employee/ independent contractor participating in the group health plan/ COBRA Administrator personally could be otherwise facing a cost up to $500,000.
We went into greater detail with the technical elements of the onboarding and offboarding process in our recent webinar and Q&A on June 18. If you want to learn more, listen to the recording by clicking the button below.
The world of work is changing alongside the modes and formats of collaboration. In order to stay on top of these changes and effectively tap into the vast and increasingly more mobile pool of talent, invest time into establishing well-structured onboard and offboarding practices that make sense for your business.
The C19 lockdown has underscored the struggle many business leaders have with their cybercapacity. The pandemic impacted everyone’s life and businesses faced abrupt transition to cyberspace only, to which only a few were prepared properly. This is the perfect time for you as a business leader and your networked teams to align your digital identity management consisting of measures and behaviours.
Whilst the technical capabilities do reduce your business risk, they still require your leadership skills for the investment to turn into a competitive advantage.
Your teams’ displayed identity behaviours will finally help you turn around potential risks to become business benefits. This mindset must become the guiding principle across the value chain of your business. Let us deconstruct what we mean by your team’s identity behaviours. If your networked team has been working remotely or is starting only now, how does identity come through in digital collaboration? If your business is more or less mobile, what then, is your digital identity based on? Most importantly, how can you leverage your digital identity in the future of work?
Evolving from a Personality-based to an Identity-based Approach
Many organisations use personality assessments to recognise, hire and motivate their workforce. Developed in the latter half of the 20th century, this personality-based approach is believed to be closely linked to an individual’s expected professional performance. Personalities are based on psychological and cognitive factors and regarded as permanent.
But what if, as we believe, identity not only describes who we are, but is constantly in motion. As a construct, it is made up of both non-changeable aspects as well as elements that develop as time goes on. Developed at the beginning of the digital era, an identity-based approach stems from the idea that people shape an organisation, and an individual’s identity is developed through social interaction and interpersonal relationships among other members of the organisation.
Key differences in the concepts of personality tools and identity creation:
Building Your Privacy First Culture on an Identity-based Approach
Leading a business, you are ultimately responsible for proactively defining your identity and brand.
Unconstrained by management or the personality-based assessments of the human resources department idiosyncratic for larger organisations, you shape your privacy first culture based on digital identity. How then, can you shape and influence it to work in your favour?
Your behaviour-centric digital identity is dependent on a number of factors:
Your multi-faceted identity is also context-dependent. Individuals tend to emphasise different parts of their identity for example at home, surrounded by family, in comparison to work, where they are surrounded by their team. This therefore also extends to the way you exhibit yourself to your prospective clients, which will subsequently have an effect on your portfolio in the near future.
A significant advantage of this identity-based approach is its ability to recognise the individual’s entire self. As the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this type of self-actualisation would stimulate higher motivation in any remote worker and lead to greater productivity.
Integrating identity with privacy measures and capabilities
Three years ago, it was predicted that remote work will become the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population by 2020. By now, it is clear that these numbers are likely to be much higher with the behavioural shifts that are taking place as a result of Covid-19. The world we are now entering, with even greater connectivity than first anticipated, requires the integration of your technical capabilities with your core identity. This combination establishes the foundation for a privacy-first culture.
Establishing a privacy-first culture is a reciprocal process among leaders and teams. Culture is not automatically built - it is enacted through people’s identity, specifically, when it comes to remote teams. So what can leaders do to create and sustain a privacy-first culture from afar? It starts with digital trust. It takes an intentional and continuous effort to role-model and foster cybersavvy behaviours to build and maintain digital trust among the team and with clients.
With the increase in remote work and shifting working habits, now is a favourable time to learn and experiment how we can maximise productivity under new circumstances. An analysis of 225 million hours of work time showed that participants ranging from students to software developers and larger organisations who work with information (i.e. writer, developer, designer or manager) had an actual productivity of 12.5 hours a week. That’s almost 28 hours of non-productive time! Unfortunately, there exists a huge gap between the number of hours workers believe that they are productive versus the actual hours that they are productive.
What are the challenges we face when we try to maximise work productivity remotely, and more importantly, what are some best practices we can employ to make the most out of our workday? This post will offer a few suggestions.
Overcoming the Optimism Bias
Most people are overly optimistic when deciding how many tasks they can complete in a day. They neglect to take into consideration the amount of planning, communication and distractions that are part and parcel of any task. Psychologists have actually coined this thinking, the Planning Fallacy, which affects every type of planning from vacations to real estate projects. Programmers in particular have a similar law, Hofstadter’s law, which states that people have great difficulty accurately measuring the amount of time it takes to finish complex tasks.
There are a few ways to overcome this optimism bias. First, tasks must be broken down into smaller chunks, estimating how much time each smaller task will take. For example, if your goal for the week is to finish writing an ebook of 5,000 words, you should consider first how long research and the completion of an outline will take. To make your work even more productive, have a plan in place for when there is a distraction or a setback. For instance, if the research for your ebook takes twice as long as you thought, you’ll need to eliminate a meeting discussing the project. Researchers have found that having a plan in place for completing projects ahead of time discourages procrastination and inspires them to get started as soon as possible
Eliminate Distractions and Put a System in Place
Beyond being too optimistic, many workers don’t maximise their work hours. Emails, phone calls, text messages, and chats with co-workers are only a few of the many distractions remote workers, digital nomads and solopreneurs will face on any given day. It can take a lot of concentration and willpower to fully eliminate these distractions and focus on the task at hand.
In response to this dilemma many workers face, the Pomodoro Technique was developed as a time management method, which has workers focus for a full, uninterrupted 25 minutes on any given task. Any thoughts of future or additional tasks should be written down quickly on a piece of paper, allowing the worker to continue on the task at hand. After the Pomodoro session is completed, the worker takes a break; after 4 sessions a longer break is encouraged. The exercise can increase the time spent focused on tasks, allowing you to complete more during a Pomodoro and a more accurate estimate of how long future tasks will take.
Here are a few additional tips for maximising productivity:
Measuring Productivity to Achieve and Surpass Your Goal
If you want to increase your work productivity, start tracking how you organise your week digitally or on paper. Do this for 3-4 weeks; the result will be a real eye-opener. From the time that you have tracked, decide what tasks you would need to accomplish in order to be productive in those 12.5 hours of actual productive work hours. Make sure you are realistic about what you can achieve in that timeframe, scheduling time for tasks such as networking, travel time, administrative duties, and of course taking care of your overall well-being.
Once you review your goals, start tracking again and do you best to achieve those goals. And when you do, be sure to celebrate your success!
Ensuring Safe Remote Work: Online Tools for the Current Circumstances of Higher Cybersecurity and Privacy Risks
Within the course of a week, COVID-19 has driven most of the world to self-isolation and triggered a massive shift to remote work. With the C-19 virus spreading, more companies, SMEs and solopreneurs are faced with the unprecedented challenge of rapidly reorganising their work to protect the well-being of their staff, while remaining as operational as possible.
Changes have been abrupt, and the air is thick with uncertainty. Yet impressive communal perseverance and cooperation has allowed the public and private sector to keep functioning to the best of their abilities while adhering to official guidelines. This wave of online reorganisation equally encompasses schools, governments, local voluntary groups, sport teams, artists and conferences due to happen in the next couple of months.
The vast choice of online tools is indeed allowing us to prevent a defeated halt to daily progress and keep connected during the ongoing crisis. Fostering remote work is certainly a necessary measure to stop the spread of C-19. Nonetheless, it is also now more important than ever to pay attention to the heightened cybersecurity and privacy risk we might miss while our full attention is channelled to our physical health.
Don’t compromise your privacy for productivity
The decision on provider selection for remote working needs to be made wisely. Many providers harvest your data to keep an eye on user behaviour and monetise the results for their gain. Unfortunately, some culprits include the tools that most gravitate towards: WhatsApp and Zoom.
The popular messaging app grabs mobile numbers, sources your contacts, shares user data with Facebook, harvests metadata and uses it in a massive ad ecosystem. Zoom, the go-to video conferencing tool, raises some questions with regard to workers’ privacy such as the recording and storage of meetings and the platform’s exact utilisation of users’ personal data.
We fully understand that is not easy to switch to a different provider. All we can do is encourage to role-model good cybersavvy behaviour and make this important step a priority. To make it easier, we have provided a list of better solutions for your consideration.
Better alternative solutions
Private search engines do not track your searches nor store your queries and they give you the freedom to control your personal data. All of this is especially important at a time when our online activity and information searching is bound to rise. A few trusted options we would encourage to explore:
How to keep two feet on the ground, remain calm and make informed decisions?
Stay safe – in both the physical and virtual sense of the term!
In the first six months of 2019 alone, 4.1 billion records were exposed due to data breaches. SME leaders and solopreneurs often find comfort in the false assumption that they are too small to be on the radar of the hackers behind these numbers. The reality, however, is that it is not about the size of your business. What makes one a potential target, is the likelihood of a weaker cybercapacity that results precisely from the assumption that company size determines your significance as a potential target.
Hackers attack approximately every 39 seconds
and on average 2,244 times a day
According to the University of Maryland, hackers attack approximately every 39 seconds and on average 2,244 times a day. As data breaches are on the rise, so is the likelihood of more companies and more users being affected. While the constant news coverage has by now led to a seeming point of desensitisation, it is crucial to understand the consequences that cyberweakness and compromised data can have.
For suffering a hack or a data breach, companies could face fines up to 4% of their annual turnover or max. EUR 20 million, whichever is higher, according to the GDPR, whilst users’ personal data can bring profit to hackers in various ways. From the duplication of credit cards to using personal information for identity theft or blackmail, being a victim can have devastating financial, reputational, and personal repercussions. It is therefore more important than ever to increase your cybercapacity by combining best practices from cyberbehaviour and technology.
With the freedom of being able to work from anywhere in the world comes the responsibility to build a digital, on-the-go workspace that is conducive to cybersecurity and privacy. But with enough daily to-dos arising from simply running your business, obstacles may arise from the simple departing point of any change in human behaviour: where to begin?
Cybercapacity as the foundation of trust
As with any task, we can start by taking it apart to create actionable steps forward. Cybercapacity can be viewed as the umbrella covering all the components you need to safeguard your business in cyberspace. The capacity-building components underneath this umbrella can be divided into two: cybersecurity and privacy. Although often conflated, these two concepts are fundamentally different. We’ve found the following parallel useful to understand the distinction: installing iron bars across your window will increase security but not your privacy; adding curtains will also take care of the latter.
Solopreneurs and SME leaders have the privilege and responsibility to establish a digital workplace culture that encompasses key principles of cybersecurity and privacy. The commitment to building your cybercapacity is not solely about protecting your business. By instilling these practices, you are also building a trustworthy brand, which can secure a long-lasting competitive advantage. Consistency in displaying safe cyberbehaviour will additionally make you a role model for your partners and clients. The established truth that a network is only as secure as its components also applies to remote teams and business interactions. Setting an example to your business network is therefore vital on the pursuit of reaching greater cyberpower.
First steps towards best practice in cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is defined as the protection of data from any unauthorised online access. Information security further expands this definition to include the protection of data from any kind of unauthorised access. Securing your data and the data of your customers ensures the protection, durability and resilience of your business from any external interference that could have devastating consequences. Some examples from best practice in cybersecurity include:
It often escapes us that cybersecurity extends from the digital realm to the physical world. Serious incidents, such as theft or losing your devices during travel, are the things you think will never happen to you… until they do. Awareness combined with preparation can go a long way in ensuring the fastest possible recovery with the smallest amount of damage in the wake of such events. Some practical ideas to keep in mind:
Establishing a reliable privacy culture
The idea that data has become the new currency is consolidating itself alongside all the threats it entails. Data protection involves an understanding of the data you are responsible for and the legal requirements you should follow to ensure its safe handling. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides a useful framework to consolidate a culture of privacy that places data protection at its heart.
Data mapping comes first
Two years since the implementation of the GDPR, we are becoming used to seeing privacy and cookie policies on most sites we visit. Nonetheless, privacy compliance extends deeper than that. We can think of it as an iceberg – there are things below the surface that we don’t see but that determine the nature of the mass as a whole.
The visible surface is an indication of being trustworthy and what lies underneath determines that the reality lives up to the façade. Following these guidelines is not only a requirement of compliance. It should not be viewed as a mere legal nuisance but as an opportunity for consolidating your brand around principles of digital trust, adding to the long-term durability of your business.
Cybersavviness as an evolving skill
The more digital our work, societies and interactions become, the more important it is to incorporate secure practices into our daily habits and workflow. Cybersavviness is a constantly evolving skill. It starts with nailing down the basics and continues by building on this foundation. As general cyberawareness keeps growing, it has also become a genuine chance to ensure a long-lasting competitive advantage through establishing digital trust. Improving your cyber capabilities and involving your clients, partners and contractors in the process is an essential investment in yourself and the resilience of your business network.
The great news is that you are not left in the dark!
You can sign up for the free ‘Quick-start Your Cyberpower’ online course to guide you in making the first steps or grab a copy of the Cyberpower eBook, which provides concrete and comprehensive guidance on safeguarding your digital workspace with ease.
One of the biggest advantages of working as a digital nomad or solopreneur is the unprecedented amount of freedom. You can work from almost anywhere that you are able to take a laptop or digital device. The world is truly your workplace. But with this freedom comes greater responsibility for the cybersecurity of your business and the privacy of your customers.
In the post-digital age, with more than 1 billion data breaches in 2018, we’ve seen that the technology-only cybersecurity solution provider has clearly failed.
So then how can remote workers ensure that their business is protected at all times against data breaches and guard the privacy of their customers?
Human Behaviour as the Weakest Link
At the end of the day, it’s not technology that can be blamed; it’s human behaviour. We are the weakest link in this game. The upside to this is that as a brand of one, there are data and privacy strategies that include daily actions and behaviour entirely within your control. These will allow you to reclaim your cyberstrength and boost your cyberpower while ensuring your customers that they can trust you with their data and information.
Here are a few of these behaviours you can easily implement for your business:
Staying Safe and Secure on the Road
For digital nomads and solopreneurs, digital safety and security on the road is of utmost importance.
Here are a few tips for ensuring safety wherever you travel:
Reclaim Your Cyberstrength and Boost Your Cyberpower
As we’ve shown in the tips in this post, you can combine tech solutions with adjustments in human behaviour to safeguard your business and protect your brand. Ultimately, the data and privacy strategies you choose as the head of cybersecurity of your business are your choice and your sole responsibility. Develop the cyber self-awareness you need to become resilient to attacks or data breaches, and you’ll have greater trust from your customers that their data is safe wherever you are in the world and no matter what the circumstance.
In 2018, there were more than 1 billion people who had their data exposed, including ones from some of the best-known consumer brands such as the Marriott Hotel, Twitter and Firebase (a Google-owned development platform used by mobile developers). Over the past few years, we have learned the hard way that the question is not if, but when your business and customers will be attacked.
It makes sense then that one of the best ways to ensure your business continuity is to have a good backup and recovery plan in place. This should include every part of your business – from business processes and assets to human resources and business partners.
Taking Preventative Steps and Mitigating Damage
As far as your digital offering is concerned, it’s your responsibility to ensure safety and do the best you can to prevent privacy and security breaches to your users. Though the future might seem grim with regards to data breaches, there are still steps you can take to prevent damage – that as a small business can be easier to implement and maintain in contrast with larger organisations, like the ones you read about in the news.
Here are a few ways to mitigate the damage from an eventual attack:
Having a Recovery Plan in Place
Beyond your own device security, you’ll need to have a recovery plan prepared ahead of time.
Having a recovery plan should include several details:
Want to start implementing the necessary steps to ensure business continuity? Join the Cyberpower Academy for free!
An Interview with Dr. Priya E. Abraham
Dr. Priya E. Abraham is a business anthropologist with more than 20 years of experience IT leading several large and complex digital transformation projects. The commonality she found in many enterprises was that they all struggled in executing their digital strategy and the human-centric aspects of the transformation process. She is now using her unique background to advise the next generation of workers: digital nomads and solopreneurs, and has recently released an ebook on the subject.
We had the opportunity to interview her and have her share her views on the future of work and cybersecurity.
It is estimated that by 2030 there will be 1 billion people working remotely around the globe. How does this bode for the cybersecurity landscape in the future? Do you feel that solopreneurs will have to step up their cybersavviness as a result?
The future of work has started already; just a few years ago business forecasts reported about the socio-economic, technological, and cultural changes in the global workforce. Despite the fact that digital nomads are often perceived as a hype and described with largely distorted biases, they have already heavily impacted the employment market.
By next year, many experts estimate half of the working population in the U.S. to be freelancers -- and by 2030, one billion digital nomads globally. Many forward-thinking companies and governments are doing what they can to leverage this workforce; companies are establishing better collaboration with remote workers and digital nomads, and digital leadership nations have established mechanisms to attract and retain this talent by offering e-residency, the possibility to incorporate fully digitally operable companies and by creating communities and services for these solopreneurs.
As the landscape for solopreneurs and digital nomads grows however, data and privacy breaches will continue to be an ever-growing concern. Last year alone saw more than 1 billion people who had their data compromised, and Q1 of 2019 has already reported 4.5 billion records exposed.
We live in a world of digital privacy asymmetry. Consumers know very little about the companies and data brokers that know so much about them. Clearly, that is their business. Nevertheless, privacy is personal. It concerns every step we take. It is the data that is harvested about us, bought, sold, and turned into profit. One of the latest trends in privacy is consumer’s demand for greater online agency and control of their data.
In response to this demand, policy makers are frantically attempting to catch up on regulations to help consumers protect their digital rights. Despite their good intentions, these regulatory gaps keep getting wider as technology advances ever more rapidly, touching literally every domain of our lives. In 2018, we saw global privacy data laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the Israeli Data Security Regulation. These laws have now made corporate giants such as Google and Facebook responsible for their consumer’s data protection.
As an entrepreneur, you need to routinely make informed decisions about how to present yourself and your brand in cyberspace whilst protecting your and your clients’ privacy. Solopreneurs need to lead this trend, not just for legal reasons but also to be informed and act as a role model. This means you must think critically about your displayed digital behaviour as well as the connected guidelines and cultural principles you use with your networked team. These principles should be solidly built on cybersecurity, which constitute business continuity, privacy and data protection.
Describe the profile or profiles of the typical solopreneur and the use cases for ensuring their client's security and safety.
Consultants, makers, developers, startup entrepreneurs, UX designers, coaches, and authors are all different types of solopreneurs. These workers enjoy an unprecedented amount of freedom and can often work independent of their location. They don’t typically work alone but in a networked team. This is where cybersavviness, whose core ingredients include cybersecurity, privacy and brand, come into play.
Cybercapacity is the combination of privacy and cybersecurity in a business environment.
It is essential that solopreneurs and their teams or networks understand the components of cybercapacity and cybersavviness. To truly develop cyberpower, solopreneurs will need to lead by example in their daily routines and displayed behaviours. For example, instead of saying “I will google that”, start saying “I will duck that” and then use the DuckDuckGo browser instead, which ensures greater privacy in contrast with Google -- who keep a record of your online interactions including your online purchases. So make sure you install your cybersecurity toolbox with DuckDuckGo and go “duck it!’.
But cybersavviness is not only the solopreneurs responsibility. Stepping up the cybersavviness ladder is a reciprocal process: Companies who work with solopreneurs need to have the necessary cybersecurity measures in place to ensure that solopreneurs handle data responsibly. These processes need to be in place as early as in the recruitment and the onboarding of the remote workers.
What do you feel is the best way for these different solopreneurs to ensure their client’s security and safety? Are there different tools and tips depending on the different profiles and different use cases or a few basic concepts?
Here are a few basic concepts any solopreneur can start to quickly implement to strengthen their client’s security and safety:
The interview was conducted at the Women at Work conference in Vienna in June 2019.
How Solopreneurs and Startups can Prevent Data Breaches
Cybersavvy solopreneurs know that they are responsible for any issues related to cybersecurity and data protection concerning their business. Digital nomads, who travel frequently, need to be particularly cautious about preventing data breaches that are a result of a lost or stolen device. Beyond prevention, however, there is the tone that you set for your business as well. As the head of cybersecurity in your business, you play a key role in developing your brand image as one that meets service standards of privacy that users would choose over your competitors.
For makers and startups in general, it is vital to reflect this in their brand, since makers and startups who seek funding need to be able demonstrate that they meet the necessary cybersecurity and privacy standards to investors.
Unfortunately, the topics of cybersecurity and data protection are anything but straightforward and easy to comprehend – the legal details on privacy, especially when it comes to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are written in legal jargon that is difficult to understand. This creates an environment where solopreneurs and makers are constantly concerned about not meeting these regulations and getting into legal trouble.
So how can solopreneurs and makers ensure that both their data and their client’s data are safe and secure?
Introducing: The Cybersavviness Checklist
Today, solopreneurs and makers are facing an increasing number of challenges in ensuring the safety of their business, including a shortage of resources, even though the requirements for safety are almost equal to that of a larger enterprise. As a Data Protection Officer, I have first-hand experience with the complexity of the compliance landscape and specifically the requirements of the GDPR, which concerns any business that processes the personal data of European citizens, irrespective of where they are located. My education as a cyberanthropologist has also made me aware of the behaviour of both makers and users in the cyberspace and how it poses a threat to not only themselves, but their networks and users as well.
While working on the ebook Your Cyberpower: How to Safeguard Your Remote Business I had the opportunity to join the Vienna Makers Group moderated by Sebastien Vercammen. There we came up with the idea of generating a checklist as people, and business owners in particular, love checklists. They greatly assist with time management, can simplify complex tasks, instill discipline and good habits, are an efficient way to complete repetitive tasks, and help reduce anxiety. The ten checkpoints of the checklist we are building cover some essential aspects of cybersecurity and privacy, discussed in more depth in the book.
With my background in anthropology, we applied best practice ethnographic research methods to the making of digital products to develop a checklist to guard clients against these threats. In other words, we took traditional field research methods such as interviews, semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation and translated them to the digital space with a mix of small and big data as in surveys, landing pages, online interviews and analytics.
First, we set up a landing page to gauge interest in addition to sending a survey to our early adopters to understand the needs of makers and solopreneurs as well as their level of expertise of the subject matter. Our initial findings were that our audience is particularly interested in learning more about how they can improve their data protection, cybersecurity and on-the-road safety.
We then drafted a few checkpoints and conducted semi-structured interviews to verify our initial findings from the survey and that the checklist was effective. After conducting a few interviews with early adopters, we found that users want an action plan to follow-up on the key learning, so we are including a three-day action plan (one hands-on action per day) with links to best solutions so that they can immediately start making their business cybersavvy.
This is the full package that we are aiming to deliver to clients:
Taking Those First Steps Towards Compliance and Safety
After seeing many makers and solopreneurs hit a stumbling block with regards to their cybersecurity, my goal was to raise awareness for the potential risks and threats posed to these businesses, including data breaches. I also wanted to provide a simple and easy head start for these business owners to become more cybersavvy and take those first steps towards compliance. As users become increasingly conscious about how their data is handled and investors demand makers and startups demonstrate compliance, becoming cybersavvy will become a winning strategy for these startups and entrepreneurs.
Want to sign up to receive a free checklist for your business? Sign up to add your name to our waiting list today!
Get the ebook: Your Cyberpower. How to Safeguard Your Remote Business.
Towards the end of 2018, the Marriott hotel announced it had been hit by a data breach that affected 500 million people and included the passport numbers of several million people. The fear was that criminals could easily use customer’s personal data, which included Social Security numbers, to open fraudulent accounts and access customer’s bank accounts.
Although most data breaches aren’t of the magnitude of the Marriott breach, many smaller breaches do happen with regularly frequency – which is why you as a digital nomad or solopreneur must be prepared. So how can you best protect your business against a data breach, no matter what the size?
Cybersecurity and Privacy: The Two Critical Components of Cybercapacity
First, you and your team must understand the critical components of cybercapacity -- cybersecurity and privacy. Think of cybersecurity as putting up bars across a window to add security (but not necessarily privacy), whereas data protection is more similar to putting up a window to ensure privacy – but not necessarily protection. After you and your team properly examine the different aspects of cybercapacity and what they mean to you, you’ll be able plan a cybersecurity strategy and fit it in with business continuity and compliance measures.
Now, armed with your new cybersecurity strategy for your business, picture the following scenario: You as a digital nomad have just spent a day in a new location. You’ve taken a well-deserved day off, relaxing in a fantastic beach place. In the evening you come back from a networking event to discover with horror that you can’t find your laptop – it was either lost or stolen, and as such, you’re looking at the strong possibility of a data breach of your users as well.
Are you prepared for what to do in the event your laptop is lost or stolen? Better yet, do you know how to set up your business to defend against data breaches and other cybercrimes before they even occur?
"What I most appreciated about 'Your Cyberpower: How to Safeguard Your Remote Business'
was its clarity, simplicity, and pragmatism. I have known for some time now that I need to do
more to safeguard my business. With this ebook I get a sense of where to start and
how to carry on, step by step.”
Phoebe, solopreneur, currently based in Vienna, Austria
Sign up to receive our ebook “Your Cyberpower: How to Safeguard Your Remote Business” and you’ll learn:
We’ve already delivered the ebook via email to those early adopters who completed our questionnaire. The public version of the ebook will be available to everyone in April.
Want to be alerted as to when the ebook is available? Sign up here to get on our waiting list today.
Digital transformation strategist | Privacy advisor | Cyber anthropologist | Author