By Berta Melder
There was a time when cybersecurity was essential only for large finance and retail companies; however, computer technology is now a crucial part of any business and data is a valuable resource that can be worth millions. Every company and its employees generate data streams that have a certain value—real estate is no exception.
Brokerages have lists of potential clients and their valuable personal information, including their phone numbers, credit details, addresses, etc. Thus, it comes as no surprise that these databases sometimes become the focus of cyberattacks. If this data is stolen, it means not only financial losses for the brokerage, but also a major problem for its clients.
The reality is all brokerages are vulnerable to cyberattacks. In real estate, a major cyberattack can cause irreversible damage to client relations, misdirect wire transfers and be a tool for extortion. Unfortunately, many real estate companies aren't well-versed in these kinds of threats. Here are seven cybersecurity tips that all real estate professionals should seriously consider:
- Monitor your environment. First, you should be able to detect dangerous activity. For example, if somebody logs in as your CEO from a Russian IP, you should know about it immediately. There are special detection systems that work with various cloud providers. These systems can help you detect the breach and shut down malicious activity before it causes any significant damage.
- Implement effective policies for the destruction and maintenance of data. Any sensitive and confidential data should be stored for only as long as it’s needed and then deleted. Companies should implement data maintenance policies to protect all crucial systems; it will lower the risk of identity theft and make it easier to follow privacy and data protection laws.
- Prevent account takeover and phishing. Account takeover and phishing are often the first steps of business email compromise. If you prevent them, it will be much easier to protect your company’s emails. Check all internet traffic using a secure gateway so that you can block malware and phishing websites. Companies that care about security don’t rely on solutions that provide signature detection only. Use phishing simulation programs to train your employees.
- Review and update important financial processes. Pay particular attention to wire transfers. You shouldn’t send wires immediately after an email request. Make sure to check the authenticity of these requests—make a phone call or have a face-to-face talk.
- Never enter your login details on websites that don’t start with "https:". If the website’s address doesn’t start with "https:", it means that this site doesn’t have a security certificate and any information that you provide is not protected.
- Pay your attention to the language used in emails. If you get an email that creates a feeling of fear or urgency, be careful. For example, you may receive an email that tells you your account is being suspended. Such emails are often used by fraudsters who want you to start acting impulsively.
- Don’t click hyperlinks. If you receive an email from somebody you don’t know, never click hyperlinks. If you really need to visit a link, copy and paste it into a text document to check it before visiting.
We live in a world where data is an incredibly valuable asset. Brokers, how are you investing in cybersecurity and monitoring suspicious activity to ensure your data can only be accessed by the right people?
Berta Melder is a brand manager and creative writer. Currently associated with Masterra Writers as a content marketing strategist, she cooperates with different education courses and helps participants develop brand management skills. Follow her on Twitter.