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Coffeeshop working is one of the benefits of the freelance lifestyle but how secure is it? We all love working at home for the peace and quiet but we also like popping into the local coffeeshop for a bit of stimulation and the buzz a coffeeshop can bring.
I am shocked by how much confidential information I overhear in coffeeshops! #GDPR
Other people can hear you!
Despite the clash of coffee cups and the noisy coffee machines that make YOU speak very loudly to be heard; other people can overhear your conversations.
I have heard everything from embarrassing medical details about a named person, to confidential trading and financial information.
Noise cancelling headsets mean you can’t hear us – they don’t mean we can’t hear you!
Public WiFi is not secure
If you think you are being discreet by sticking to email and IM in the coffee shop – think again. Public WiFi is not secure. There are easy ways to see what you are uploading.
Password protecting your log in doesn’t help if someone is intercepting your data.
Top tips for secure coffeeshop working
- Use a private network to make your data more difficult to see. Avast secure line will create you a private encrypted link and it’s free. Apple fans and those wanting more options can check here. Topvpn have listed 15 best Free Trial VPNs here. Coworker also have a guide on VPN’s for working online here.
- Password protect your device and put it on a timer so if you get up for coffee and leave it behind it is locked.
- Encrypt the data on your device (don’t just password protect it) so if you lose it people can’t see the data. Microsoft 365 users you can use Bitlocker. Apple users have File Vault.
- Check whether your screen is visible to other coffeeshop users. Change your seat to make sure your screen can’t be read. Client logos can be recognised from quite a long way away.
- Never name an individual or a client in a public space. If you must have a conversation that we can all hear talk about ‘our client’ or ‘the project’ or ‘the customer’.
- Put a tracker on your mobile device so you can find it quickly if you are not sure if you left it at home, in the car or at the coffee shop.
- Make sure you have remote wiping set up for all your devices.
Tell your callers
You may feel you are talking quietly and discreetly but there is nothing less discreet than discovering the coffee shop has gone silent and everyone can hear what you are saying.
The people you are working with (and for) and their customers are not expecting everyone to hear your conversation. While it is great that you can work anywhere – make sure people who are online with you on Skype, or Messenger or phone know that you can be overheard. Some of them are so noisy we can hear them too!
Don’t be afraid to say can we do this later
If a client contacts you unexpectedly with something urgent it can be tempting to get everything sorted out straightaway. Don’t be afraid to say “you caught me as I am leaving a coffee shop meeting – can I call you when I get to a more suitable location?”
Human error is the biggest security risk
However cleverly you set things up – we are the biggest security risk. Getting an urgent call and leaving your laptop behind, losing your phone – it’s happened to everyone.
You need to plan how to work securely and what you are going to do when it all goes wrong. Having a back up plan to handle mistakes is far more secure than just hoping they never happen.
Ask the people you pay to help you
With GDPR coming fully into force in May 2018 it is important that the people you pay to handle your confidential data are not leaking it everywhere along with the frothy coffee.
Don’t forget to include your freelancers, associates and outsourced teams in your Data Protection Audit as you get ready.
If you are starting to think about how GDPR affects the way you run your business join our GDPR list at the top of the page. Our GDPR support page is also full of helpful information.