Cyber Security for REALTORS®

Author: Kelly Cruz, Customer Support Specialist – Realty Partners LLC

Sarasota, FL. November 5th, 2021 – We live in a digital age and with that comes great privilege and great risk. With everything going virtual it was only a matter of time before crooks joined the band wagon. As a REALTOR® you are just as much at risk as small business owners when it comes to cyber security threats so it’s important to be proactive.

What is cyber security? Cyber security is a broad term that encompasses protecting your information, identity, and funds. According to Nexustek Security Services – “Cybersecurity involves preventative practices such as risk assessments to identify weaknesses in your IT systems that cybercriminals can exploit. Proactive measures, including anti-virus software, firewalls, email filters, system patches, and monitoring.”

Why is cyber security so important for REALTORS®? Real Estate is centered around making large purchases and transactions which makes agents and their customers ideal targets for cyber criminals. To give you an idea of the risk involved, according to an article by Reason Security one third of real estate firms experienced a cyber security attack between 2018 and 2020. These criminals do not discriminate against their victims and are more than willing to attack buyers, agents, and title companies all the same.  

How to prevent a cyber security attack? There are many ways to help protect you from falling prey to cyber criminals. One very common thing that gets overlooked is email. Be sure to confirm wiring instructions via phone. Don’t trust emails for wiring funds as this is an easy way for hackers to intercept. Hackers often will falsify an email in a way to make it look real and as if it may be coming from a Title Company. Inform your buyers of this risk so they don’t make this costly mistake. NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) offers a Wire Fraud Email Notice Template that you can easily add to your email signature as a reminder for your buyers. 

Listed below are some other tips to consider introducing into your business practice.

·  Don’t click on unknown attachments or links in emails you have received

·  “Complicate” your passwords by using phrases, numbers, letters, symbols

·  Consider using a password manager such as LastPass and use different passwords for different accounts

·  Be sure to set up Two-Factor authentication whenever it is available

·  Avoid using public Wi-Fi for anything banking or work related

·  Invest in an Anti-virus Software and be sure to keep it updated

·  Keep a separate data backup somewhere that cannot be accessed from the internet

·  Be careful with what apps you download; do your research and make sure they are reputable

·  Don’t click unknown links or popups

Cyber security is important to be aware of to protect yourself and your customers. There is nothing more disheartening than a closing gone wrong, unless of course that closing was intercepted by a cybercriminal. (Yeah, that makes it a bit worse.) Take advantage of the resources you have to prevent a devastating attack and stay educated. NAR offers plenty of information including a Data Security and Privacy Toolkit and several videos on cyber security for you to get started.