7 Cyber Security Best Practices for Real Estate AgentsNovember 28, 2017
While there may be no way to entirely prevent a cyber attack, there are certainly some cyber security best practices that real estate agents can use to reduce the risk that they or their clients become victims of cyber crimes. Here are seven:
Keep Your Systems and Software Updated
Make sure your antivirus software and firewalls are working properly and are updated. Also update your operating systems and programs when prompted. Although it can be a pain to have to suffer through a few minutes of downtime when you can’t use your computer, many of these updates are aimed at addressing security issues and should be completed as soon as possible. Also, be sure to perform regular backups to ensure that your data is not lost in case of a breach.
Change Your Passwords Often
Use long, complex passwords that others cannot easily figure out using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts. Also select two-factor authentication whenever possible.
Protect Your Wireless Router
Always change the factory admin password (this is not the same as your network password) for your wireless router Otherwise, it can be very easy for any hacker to change your password and install unwanted software and access information on your computer. It’s also a good idea to hide your router’s Service Set Identifier (SSID).
Do Not Use Unsecured Wireless Networks
Avoid the temptation to use unsecured wireless networks at public places like restaurants and airports. That’s because hackers can access your emails when you’re on these connections. If you have to log on to public networks, be sure to use a VPN service to keep your information secure.
Educate Your Clients about Cyber Security Threats Like Wire Fraud
Educate your clients about the growing threat of email wire fraud. For example, warn them not to open emails from unfamiliar sources, and to never complete money transfers via email links unless they’ve confirmed via a phone call that the source is reliable. According to a recent article in RIS Media, the best way to provide this information to your clients is in written form, because this not only makes them aware of potential threats, but also will provide proof that you warned them in writing in the case of legal action. The National Association of Realtors® even recommends collaborating with an attorney to develop a written disclosure for this purpose.
Carefully Vet IT Professionals
Before giving an IT professional or company access to your computer or network and all your client information, be sure to do your homework. Ask for referrals from their past clients, check their online reviews and testimonials, and check their ratings with the Better Business Bureau. It’s also a good idea to review your contract with the security company you decide to hire with an attorney to determine who is liable in the event there is a breach that is due to an oversight or mistake on their part.
Know Your Laws
States have varying requirements pertaining to the data security measures that businesses must take. Learn what is required in your state laws or hire an IT professional to ensure that you are in compliance.
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