That’s why it’s of huge importance to stay safe at any given moment. If you would like to protect yourself in these types of situations, then scroll below to see what needs to be done to accomplish that.
Get Yourself Familiar With The Most Common Threats
There are various threats that are lurking behind every corner and waiting to "attack" you. Before I further proceed with this topic, I would like to first enumerate several things to help you understand the dangers that reside in the real estate industry.
- Cybersecurity threats – Hackers have become very wise over the past couple of years, which means that they can easily get access to your data, such as your personal identification and financial information by relying on different email scams or by simply entering your system without you even noticing it. This is something that frequently happens on some of the biggest search platforms, hence if I were you, I would opt for smaller ones because, for the time being, they are a lot safer. Fortunately, there are lots of great alternatives when it comes to this that would never allow anything bad to occur to their consumers.
- Physical threats – Sadly, things like identity theft have also become very common in this industry, which normally happens when physical documents (which contain extremely important data) are stolen.
- Insider threats – This segment refers to both business owners and homebuyers. Namely, sometimes certain people may seem trustworthy at first glance but are actually far from it. When I say this, I allude to employees in your company, contractors, and many others. These individuals are prone to misusing sensitive data for their own personal gain or because they want to harm the firm they work for. So keep an eye on them!
- Social engineering threats – This is by far one of the most common threats. Namely, there are lots of people and “organizations” out there that will pretend to be somebody else (such as a legitimate real estate company or agent) just so they could trick you into giving away all your sensitive data. If by any chance, you are contacted by these individuals, please be sure to first do your homework to see if they are really legit before you take any further steps.
- Third-party vendor threats – These are typically businesses that deal with sensitive data on behalf of other companies from this industry that couldn't care less about protecting their consumers, which, of course, results in data breaches.
Now, that you are aware of every possible threat that is out there, I hope that you will pay attention to them whenever you are searching for a new home or when you are executing a specific transaction.
Find A Reliable Real Estate Marketplace Company
I know that a vast majority of people do not perceive these sorts of companies as anything that’s potentially dangerous, but as I’ve previously told you there are a number of these platforms that are prone to taking advantage of the consumer’s sensitive data, like Zillow.
That’s why if I were you, I would rather focus on the smaller companies of this kind where you can transparently see all their privacy policies. For example, if you’re currently interested in houses that are situated in the state of Alabama, then it would be much better if you resorted to a private Alabama real estate search of some of the smaller (yet more trustworthy) real estate market companies, instead of opting for the “big names” in terms of property search platforms. Otherwise, you’ll end up being constantly bombarded with spam emails that will at some point drive you nuts.
Properly Train Your Workers
This refers to the business owners because not even they are safe when it comes to this. If you’re the owner of a real estate company and you want to be sure that all personal data are safeguarded properly, then you must train your employees so they can be wary of anything that is going on in the online world.
So what do I mean by that? For starters, you need to be sure that your email and network protection is capable of filtering out different malware and spam. That’s something that’s mandatory.
Then you need to turn to a data protection policy that's going to show your workers exactly what needs to be performed to secure personal data. Keep reminding them that if they by any chance notice anything that's even remotely suspicious, they should immediately notify you.
Don’t Forget To Back-up Your Data On A Regular Basis
If you're the owner of a real estate company or any other company for that matter, then there's no need to remind you how essential it is to frequently back up your data if you want to protect it from a variety of different threats.
Perceive this step as some sort of insurance that you can lean on in case of a data loss accident. Don’t forget that precisely something like this is going to make sure that you can easily recover anything that’s been lost, and, at the same time, it’s going to reduce the impact of a data breach on all your operations.
From what I've heard from some of the biggest experts in this field is that one of the best strategies that you can use is the so-called 3-2-1 rule. So what does it represent? It wants to accentuate the fact that everybody must have at least three copies of their data in two formats.
Bear in mind that one of those copies must be put off-site. If you want to add another layer of protection, then it would be wise to turn your data into code once you store it online so you can lower the chances of tampering or data theft.
Another thing that can be implemented is cloud storage, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. Both of these tools are great options due to the fact that they instantly back up your data, which means that you do not need to worry about losing it.
If by any chance you are utilizing a cloud property management software, then you do not need to manually back up anything because as soon as you upload your data, it is immediately encrypted and backed up.
That’s precisely one of the major reasons why so many people (including business owners) love to employ cloud property software.
Dedicated Server Is A Great Option
Unfortunately, a vast majority of real estate companies have a tendency to utilize a shared server in order to host their files which is not recommendable due to the fact that it could cause numerous risks.
How come? Well, that's because, in these instances, different programs, websites, and scripts are being run practically on the same machine. Not to mention the fact that if you use a shared server, it means that literally, anyone can access your server, not just only you and your staff but even individuals outside of your firm.
And If something like this happens, your site is going to become a lot more vulnerable which could at some point result in a data breach simply because the server you've been utilizing has poor-quality security.
Therefore, it's essential to opt for a dedicated server if you want to efficiently decrease the risk of data theft and breach. Not only will you safeguard your data more effectively, but you'll also have peace of mind knowing that nothing can jeopardize your data. And that's for sure invaluable.
Password, Password, Password
This refers to every single person out there. Sadly, a lot of people fail to realize how pivotal a strong password is. They just simply create one that's relatively short and simple and then employ it on every profile and email that they have.
And that's a completely wrong approach that could seriously jeopardize your data. According to the reports that have been published by TechRepublic, almost twenty percent of enterprise users utilize passwords that can be defined as weak.
And then, we even have the ones who use extremely weak passwords, such as “123456” or they put their birth date. Another very bad idea. Bear in mind that if you want to create something that cannot be breached easily, then you must make a password that’s strong.
When I say strong, I allude to the one that's for starters very long (it must have at least eight characters) and should contain both lowercase letters and uppercase letters, special characters, and numbers.
It wouldn't be wise to have a password that has important personal information such as your address, birth date, and other similar things. In addition, if you would like to add an additional layer of security, then I would recommend you use two-factor authentication.
Why does this matter? Namely, precisely something like this is going to enable you to create a unique code either on the Google Authenticator app or on your cell phone number. I mean, it's highly unlikely that anyone will ever have both access to your smartphone and your password.
Turn To Secure Communication Channels For Exchanging Sensitive Data
What do I mean when I say a secure communication channel? It alludes to any type of communication that highlights data confidentiality and protection. If you’re planning on having any real estate transaction (that’s either non-monetary or monetary) then be sure to utilize safe communication channels.
What are the best options when it comes to this? There are several ones and below, I’ll mention a couple of them:
- Virtual private network – Also known as VPN. It enables you to have safe communication online by encrypting data that's been sent between any devices.
- Secure file-sharing platforms – Anything that you would like to transfer, including sensitive data, you can by employing some of these platforms because they are very reliable and safe.
- Secure messaging apps – There are various apps of this type that are excellent. From what I know, Signal is one of the best ones, for the time being, due to the fact that it provides end-to-end encryption for safe and stable communication.
- In-person meetings – If you need to talk about something that’s private, confidential, and above all, important, then I would advise you to opt for secure meetings that you can hold in locations that cannot be easily accessed by anyone.
Protect All Your Devices
One of the best things that you can do protect your files (and devices in general) from malware, viruses, spam emails, phishing emails, and many other things is by downloading some good security software.
When I say this, I refer to an antivirus program that is able to safeguard all your devices against a variety of different virtual threats. If you opt for something like this, you will drastically decrease the chances of receiving anything that's potentially fishy.
There are various technological innovations that we could make use of when it comes to this. One of them is artificial intelligence which has taken data protection to a totally new level. With its help, anyone can detect and avoid cyber-attacks effectively.
How come? Namely, artificial intelligence, along with machine learning algorithms is capable of breaking down huge amounts of data in order to recognize patterns and anomalies that at first glance appear to be security threats.
No one should ever misuse your personal data! However, since you don’t have control over it, the only thing that you can actually do to protect yourself is to implement everything that’s been written here today.