6 Tips on How to Ensure Your Real Estate Agency Is Working Safely

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Feb 25, 2024

Real estate agencies face unique cyber risks. Find out how to protect sensitive data with tips for cloud storage and VPNs, ensuring digital security.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of all time, said that 90% of millionaires become so through owning real estate. That statement was true a century ago and is still true today. The real estate sector is here to stay, whether it’s the passive income, tax benefits, leverage, appreciation, cash flow, or tangibility. People will always need a place to live, and brick-and-mortar stores will pay rent just to be in the best location in town.

As a real estate agency, your number one goal is to satisfy your customers. You want them to find the piece of land to build on, the best apartment, or the ideal house in the suburbs. The only thing that can prevent you from doing so is your competitors. Or so you think.

Cybercriminals are one of the biggest threats to real estate agencies. Working safely is a mandatory requirement to keep hackers at bay. The average cost of a data breach is $4.45 million. When you include loss of reputation and clients, it can account for way more.

Why are hackers targeting real estate agencies?

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing sales or property management services; cybercriminals will target you for data. Agencies have tons of it:

  • Companies’ financial information
  • Bank account numbers
  • Phone numbers
  • Mailing and physical addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Social Security numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Customer names

With all this data at stake, hackers will do their best to infiltrate your systems. There are a few tactics they’ll try:

  • Plant malware in your system and steal your credentials.
  • Brute-force their way into your system by guessing passwords and usernames.
  • Trick you or your employees to enter credentials into a fake site.
  • Compromise a service you use and gain access to your logins through a third party.

Just as importantly, there’s human error, which cannot be accounted for. Click on a fake link, attach a wrong document, or give access to important files to someone who shouldn’t see them, and cybercriminals will find a way in.

6 tips to prevent a data breach

Prevention is better than treatment. That’s true for both our physical and digital health. Here are some tips to ensure your real estate agency stays digitally secure.

Know the threats

You can’t be safe from cyber threats unless you know what’s out there. Most breaches happen because of human error, attributed to a lack of information. Real estate agents usually show properties and close deals, not browse the newest cybersecurity trends. But being aware has become a necessity. You might think a potential buyer is sending you a link in an email for a property they’d like to buy, but it could be a phishing attack in disguise.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi

One of the perks of being a real estate agent is traveling. You get to go to places you otherwise couldn’t. As a bonus, most places have free Wi-Fi, so your mobile data bill doesn’t increase. Well, using public Wi-Fi is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Cybercriminals often exploit unsecured networks and can use man-in-the-middle attacks to breach your phone and see what you’re browsing.

Keep data on the cloud

With agents scouting properties all around the country, your agency might be used to remote work. There’s nothing wrong with remote work, but there’s a problem if information leaks from multiple places. Your central data hub should be in one place, securely stored on the cloud or a corporate network. For the latter example, only devices with specific IPs could access it—that way, cybercriminals will be deterred.

Use VPNs

The optimal way to protect yourself online is to use a virtual private network (VPN). It helps with the public Wi-Fi problem because it encrypts the data coming to and going from your device in case someone tries to intercept it.

But a VPN is not the be-all and end-all solution for cybersecurity. VPNs encrypt your data and hide your IP address. A dynamic VPN will allow your employees to connect securely to a corporate network, no matter where they are. There’s additional secure connectivity for smartphones with dynamic VPNs, which are better for scalability.

Update software regularly

No matter what your line of work is, updates are a must. Whether it’s an update on your skills, upsell process, services, or your phone’s operating system, you need to be up-to-date. Updates have vital security patches that cover the latest security vulnerabilities and make your devices safer. Don’t postpone updates. There’s a reason why a saying goes, “You snooze, you lose.” It’s not just for waking up.

Train your staff

Last but not least, there’s security training. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. The same goes for cybersecurity systems. Even if you have a top-notch antivirus, VPN, and firewall, a simple human mistake can override them all. Invest in improving staff habits and put data privacy first when working.

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