Should I Share Data With Freelancers?

The modern workforce is a diverse mix of full-time and freelance talent from around the world. Some freelancers are hired to complete a specific task, while others work as part of your team for months or years.

Data sharing is a crucial element for these modern teams but creates security vulnerabilities for companies to manage. Being mindful of data sensitivity and limiting what you share with freelancers is key to avoiding breaches and, in some regions, maintaining data compliance regulations.

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What is Remote Data Sharing?

Remote data sharing is the act of sharing passwords, files (images, documents, etc.), client data, company data, and any other information required for teams outside of your secure business network to complete tasks and projects.

Data sharing is an unavoidable element for modern workforces, but many businesses still fail to mitigate security risks for remote teams.

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Managing Remote Data Sharing with Freelancers

While remote data sharing with freelancers might seem complicated, companies can minimize their risks significantly by implementing some basic data security protocols.

Categorize Projects by Security Level

Before companies even consider sharing data with freelancers, it's crucial first to create security levels and protocols. Once these standard operating procedures are in place, team members will have a basis for how and when to share data.

Security designations might include:

  • Sensitive
  • Confidential
  • Private
  • Proprietary
  • Public

Each project or task must receive one of these labels, so team members know what the protocols are for sharing:

  • Over company networks
  • Within internal teams
  • To remote teams
  • To freelancers & contractors

Companies might also consider creating "separation of duties" policies for highly sensitive tasks and projects.

Sharing Customer Information with Freelancers

When it comes to customer data, businesses must exercise the strictest "need to know" policies and procedures, especially when it comes to small businesses and agencies.

More than 70% of all cyber-attacks target small businesses, often using these companies as a conduit to larger organizations. So, sharing customer information with freelancers must be as limited as possible.

Sharing Login Details

The first rule for sharing login details is never to share login details. The only secure way to share passwords is with a password manager like TeamPassword.

With TeamPassword, you can add freelancers to groups giving them access to specific apps and tools. Once their task is complete, you can remove them again with one click.

With TeamPassword, you'll never expose login details, not even to your most trusted employees. By using a password manager, companies can eliminate credential sharing, one of the leading causes of data breaches.

Never Share Personal Customer Data

Under no circumstances should companies ever share customer's personal details with freelancers. In many US states, particularly in California, and the EU, sharing customer data with contractors and freelancers is illegal.

Even giving freelancers access to your email marketing software could be violating data privacy regulations. In the EU, this could lead to a €10 million fine or 2 percent of your annual revenue. 

Aside from the legal ramifications, companies must treat sharing customer data as an issue of ethics and do everything they can to protect their customers.

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NDAs & Data Privacy Agreements

NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) and data privacy agreements must be standard practice at any business employing contractors and freelancers. No data should ever be deemed "unimportant," and these documents should be discussed and signed even before conducting interviews.

NDAs for Freelancers

NDA stands for non-disclosure agreement and is a legally binding document where both parties agree to keep confidentiality for a defined period, sometimes indefinitely.

Breaking a non-disclosure agreement won't incur any criminal charges, but it does provide the opportunity to sue an individual who breaches the contract. It's important to note–if you're a US-based company in an NDA with a party outside of the US, your chances of enforcing that contract in court are almost zero.

Still, if you use Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr, you might take action against freelancers breaching an NDA by filing a complaint with the platform.

Data Privacy Agreement (DPA) for Freelancers

Many companies fail to use data privacy agreements when hiring freelancers, and they actually could be violating laws in the US and EU.

As part of the EU's GDPR compliance, DPAs must be signed by any party processing data on behalf of a company. Meaning, even if you share your Google Analytics account with a freelancer, they must sign a DPA.

Where NDAs serve little or no interest for courts, violating a DPA could lead to severe fines and penalties for both parties.

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Sharing Tools with Freelancers

It's often the case that companies need to share access to tools and apps with freelancers. As we have established, sharing login credentials should never be an option.

Here are three important reasons companies should use TeamPassword to manage sharing tools with freelancers:

  • Accessibility - TeamPassword features Chrome, Firefox, and Safari extensions so freelancers can access tools no matter their preferred device or browser. Allowing freelancers to work on a device they're most comfortable with is vital for productivity and efficiency.
  • Groups and Sharing - Creating groups is another powerful TeamPassword feature. This type of sharing enforces a robust "need to know" policy by providing access only to those who need it. With a simple mouse click, you can add and remove access for team members, perfect for after a freelancer has completed a task.
  • Activity and Logging - Keeping an eye on who accesses and shares login credentials is an essential part of maintaining secure remote data sharing. Managers can monitor team member's movements and note any suspicious activity or unauthorized access. They can also set up email notifications for access to highly sensitive tools and data.

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Sharing Sensitive Information with Freelancers

Unfortunately, sharing sensitive information with freelancers comes down to trust. For this reason, it's crucial to build long-term relationships with freelancers, only hire people who come highly recommended or have extensive experience in working with sensitive data on sites like Upwork or Fiverr.

Suppose you have carried out proper risk assessments and categorized your projects by security levels. In that case, you'll have procedures in place to minimize the amount of sensitive data you share with freelancers.

If you share information via free cloud storage platforms like Google Drive or Dropbox, always remove access immediately after a freelancer completes a task. 

For highly sensitive information about your clients or business, always use a secure file-sharing provider which provides corporate-grade security like:

  • Data encryption
  • Firewalls (prevents freelancers and employees sharing unauthorized access)
  • Advanced folder permissions
  • User usage controls (based on time, location, etc.)
  • Identity-verification tools
  • Activity monitoring
  • File-expiration
  • Data wiping

Some examples of secure file sharing tools include:

  • Egnyte
  • SugarSync
  • Citrix ShareFile

Using a password manager with these secure file-sharing tools will significantly increase data sharing security with freelancers.

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Sharing Press Releases and Product Releases with Freelancers

Sharing press releases and product releases with freelancers is problematic. Data leaks on these releases could cost you or your clients millions of dollars in lost revenue or ruin months or years of preparation.

One way to share information with freelancers before it's released to the public is by segmenting the work and hiring multiple freelancers to complete a single task.

Working this way could distort the full picture of the product and minimize the impact of a leak. Segmenting these tasks will also allow you to identify which freelancer leaked your information and, therefore, cannot be used for future projects.

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Risks Involved with Sharing Passwords with Freelancers

Sharing raw usernames and passwords is extremely dangerous, exposing businesses and their clients to all sorts of security risks. If exposed credentials access a client's personal data, a company could be liable for prosecution in the EU or California.

Release of Sensitive Data

The biggest concern for companies sharing passwords with freelancers is the possibility of sensitive data being exposed. Exposing sensitive information isn't always malicious, so companies must also look at how accidental exposure might happen and find ways to mitigate those possibilities.

Exposes Companies & its Clients to Attacks 

Another massive concern for businesses sharing passwords with freelancers and contractors is exposing your company or clients to cyberattacks. Usernames and passwords are often stolen and sold on the dark web to criminals for use in all sorts of nefarious cybercrimes.

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The RIGHT Way to Share Passwords with Freelancers

The safest way to share passwords with freelancers is by using a password manager like TeamPassword

TeamPassword using Secure Encryption Technology, whereby sensitive information is hashed, salted, and encrypted locally on your computer and then transmitted to the server via an encrypted connection.

With TeamPassword, you never have to expose passwords to freelancers. Instead, freelancers can use TeamPassword's browser extensions to sign into tools and apps. When a task or project is complete, you can remove a freelance with a single click—no need to worry about changing login details for fear of stolen credentials.

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Get started today by sharing passwords securely with freelancers today with a free TeamPassword trial.