Hacked! 5 Ways to Protect Your Real Estate Business from Online Security Threats
Information security threats have risen throughout the years, and the 2016 saw two very controversial ones: the hacking of over a billion Yahoo! accounts and, more recently, the supposed Russian hacking of the US presidential elections (let me repeat that… “supposed”). People today have never been as closely connected to each other throughout human history thanks to the internet and the derivatives thereof—social media and mobile technology being the biggest. And with these things being closely integrated into our daily lives, there is a great need to protect ourselves from these threats. Especially in the business of home buying and selling, where most of the transactions with your real estate leads and clients are done online, securing your business from internet security breaches is paramount.
Imagine if one of your real estate leads’ or clients’ personal information get stolen and it was traced back to you. Worse, what if someone uses this information to stalk your clients and inflict physical harm? Bad for business. Bad for your conscience. Bad for you.
Here are 5 easy ways to secure your business from online threats.
Don’t be lazy with passwords
Having secure passwords are by far THE most basic means of online protection. However, as elementary as it may seem, a lot of times we get too lazy to memorize passwords and end up using just one for all our online accounts. This practice is very dangerous. If a hacker figures out your password, it leaves all your online accounts vulnerable to intrusion. Make sure to have unique passwords especially for the accounts you use to store the information of your real estate leads and clients. Also, do not forget to change your passwords from time to time.
Get antivirus and anti-spyware protection
Much like how the Achaeans in Greek Mythology used the Trojan Horse to be willfully taken in by the citizens of Troy only to find out that inside it was a band of warriors led by Odysseus who stormed out and opened the gates of the city leading to its eventual demise, malware works in a similar fashion. These pieces of code invade your computer by hiding in other pieces of software that you might unknowingly allow into your system. They may come in through email attachments, downloads, unsecure websites, and other forms that are meant to deceive (or even entice) you to accept. Once in, these malwares transmit information from your computer to whoever created and sent them giving these hackers full access to your information. With that, it is important for any real estate professional to invest on malware protection and keep it constantly updated to ensure the information security not only of their business but also of their real estate clients.
Isolate your business machines and systems
Having a computer dedicated to your real estate business is a must. As much as possible, do not mix your personal accounts with business. Not only will this keep you (and your staff) more productive, but it also lessens the incidence of unwanted malware entering your business systems. As much as possible, limit administrative access only to key people in your office to avoid others installing or downloading apps that might be laced with malware.
Invest on a CRM
Looking back to the hacking incident that Yahoo! suffered from, this only proves how unsafe it is to use emails in daily communication, especially in business. Investing on a Customer Relationship Management platform (e.g. Top Producer, Market Leader, Commissions Inc, Podio, etc.) to manage your transactions not only makes it more efficient for you to keep better track of your business but it also adds an extra layer of security especially when communicating with your real estate prospects and clients. A CRM also serves as a hub for all your team members to communicate with each other without using external emails and makes sharing business related information easier and more secure.
...Or You Could Turn to Google
If you do not have the budget for all these (yet), the Google ecosystem is the best alternative for your real estate business. Google apps is not only cost effective but is also constantly updated with latest security patches. The apps have great collaborative functionality, have a wide array of integrations, and is relatively running on a more secure environment compared to its counterparts.
Do remember, however, that there is no such thing as 100% foolproof protection against hacking. As internet security technology progresses, so do the methods used by hackers. So, it is up to us to be vigilant against these threats to protect our businesses and our clients.
Do you have a system like Top Producer or Commissions Inc but feel overwhelmed integrating it to your business? We’ll be glad to help implement these for you. To know more, visit us at www.RealEstateLeadsProspector.com or call us at 407-401-9225.