Some Cybersecurity Tips to Protect You and Your Clients’ Information

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Cybersecurity Tips to Protect Your Business & Client Information

~ A CRS Webinar ~

 

CRS logoI listened in on a terrific webinar the other day from CRS on cybersecurity, with tips on how to protect ourselves and our business, but also our clients’ information.

 

 

I thought I would share some of the best tips, learnings, and take-aways from Craig Grant, the Real Estate Tech Guru, a national speaker and trainer, and a certified CRS Instructor.

 

Just a small aside – our resident cybersecurity and identity theft expert, Robert Siciliano, shares lots of valuable information to help avoid identity theft, virtual and physical crime, and related issues on a regular basis. I highly recommend you follow him, and read his posts (and perhaps put some of his recommendations in place, too). Some of the stuff he talks about is kinda scary!

 

So here are some webinar highlights:

 

1. 30,000 consumers are victims of a digital crime every day. That’s pretty astounding.

 

2. Nothing can be done to keep out a hacker who wants in, but they typically are looking for the easiest way in. You and I are easier.

 

3. There are a million new viruses every day. The US is the biggest hacker target, by 10:1. Again, that’s pretty scary how much is out there and it’s always being changed – hence all the patches and upgrades (see item 6).

 

 

4. It’s essential to have anti-virus protection on all of your devices, including your smartphone. Grant says you can get a virus on anything, including Apple products, even though they may be less common.

 

Cyberhacker5. The recommended products to protect you are Avast, AVG, and Malwarebytes. Grant recommended paying for the full suite of protection, not just the free anti-virus, to be maximally protected.

 

6. Many people - yep,I'm guilty - ignore the numerous patches and updates they get, or put off installing them. DON’T DO THIS.

Many are critical because of bug fixes and security updates to take care of new viruses. Plus not only should your operating system be updated, but your software and apps should, too.

 

7. Having strong passwords (with unique ones for each different site), and changing them regularly, is key. You can do this manually, or use a password manager (Grant noted that every password manager, including the highly recommended LastPass, has been hacked).

 

A recommended manual password strategy is a combination of 3 components:

(1) a base – a random combination of upper and low case letters, numbers, and symbols (not all websites allow symbols in passwords) – that can be the same for all sites, e.g., 2Sr1pMx! - you'll remember it after a while!

(2) a psychology component, i.e., what word makes you think of that site; and

(3) a time component, such as Q2 or Q119 (i.e., for Q1 2019) that you would change periodically.

 

So a Facebook password today could be 2Sr1pMx!zuckQ219.

 

8. Phishing, sending fraudulent emails and texts to try to get you to give up sensitive information, is increasing all the time. We all get this stuff, and probably recognize it. We need to slow down and pay close attention.

 

Check out the header – does it even make sense?! Look at spelling and grammar – that’s a huge giveaway, and pretty funny sometimes. Links are also commonly included (e.g., “update your account information here”), and of course one should never click on them.

 

9. Wire fraud is becoming more and more common in our industry. It’s important to educate our clients about what it is, how it works, and how to protect themselves. You can include a wire transfer disclosure in your email. California now has a specific Wire Transfer Disclosure that is part of our offer contract - does your state?

 

 

Escrow companies are commonly using encryption and other means to share wiring instructions, and buyers are strongly recommended to call and verify wiring instructions with someone at the company they know works there. And it’s important to make sure these vendors have cyber insurance. Cyber insurance policies are also available for individuals, too.

 

 

10. Social engineering tips – guard your online reputation carefully. Grant recommends you clean up your social media profiles on a regular basis, say quarterly, including auditing your friends list (are there some who should be removed or blocked?), privacy, and posting settings.

 

11. Tech etiquette – further protect your business and your reputation by watching those digital emotions, and being careful of what you say and how. Don’t be too hasty to hit that send/submit button.

 

And while he did not mention this specifically, I would add do not share confidential information on clients or transactions in your social media shares.

 

And agents should advise buyers and sellers about not sharing information about their transactions on their social media sites.

 

Grant and his colleague teach a full day CRS class on cybersecurity and I’m planning to take it when I can.

 

So how is YOUR cybersecurity and are you protecting your business, and your clinets' information?

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Rainmaker
3,212,553
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Jeff - I guess it's time(again) to remove my head from the sand but it is so comfortable.  And that's the problem or at least part of it.

 

Apr 18, 2019 09:32 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,136,796
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Jeff Dowler, CRS - Great piece on cyber-security.  I like adding the next time to change the password! That is a great idea.  

I learned the info below from my husband. 

I might add one component to the list.  Look at getting a VPN. Virtual Private Network. In simple terms - it masks the identity of your IP address. I feel a little more secure at hotels and places like Starbucks. I use NordVPN and it was pretty reasonable.  

All my devices are protected and synced up with 1Password and McAfee protection. This includes my home WiFi.  

Key point - Look at the headers for the emails and cursor over any HTML button and look at the URL. If you don't recognize it, be very leery to click it.

 

Apr 18, 2019 09:41 AM #10
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Grant Schneider 

Yep it is pretty scary how vulnerably we can be, and these days we do so much online. Wire fraud just keeps getting worse it seems.

Jeff

Apr 18, 2019 09:52 AM #11
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Well I certainly get that Michael Jacobs  I bet there are many who are far more vulnerable to cybersecurity issues that they realize, or perhaps do not recognize the dangers.

Jeff

Apr 18, 2019 09:55 AM #12
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

These are excellent points Sheri Sperry - MCNE® . Grant also mentioned the value of using a VPN.

The phishing emails really get pretty annoying, and some look pretty authentic, with logos and all. But unless you check things like you suggest, it's easy to be taken in, and no doubt many unsuspecting people are.

Jeff

Apr 18, 2019 09:58 AM #13
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Jeff- we cannot be reminded of this enough!!!  I drive Larry crazy with my long passwords and I try changing them often. And it's important not to use the same password for every site. 

Apr 18, 2019 05:50 PM #14
Rainmaker
1,515,134
Mike Cooper, GRI
Cornerstone Business Group Inc - Winchester, VA
Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro

Hey, Jeff. Thanks for the info. You can never be too careful. 

Apr 19, 2019 10:52 AM #15
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Kathy Streib 

Yep the passwords can really drive you nuts but they are so critical. Life used to be so simple!

Jeff

Apr 19, 2019 02:28 PM #16
Rainmaker
1,386,969
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

This is very good information - thanks for sharing. We cannot be too careful.

Apr 20, 2019 04:01 AM #17
Rainmaker
3,485,748
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Jeff. These are great tips all and while I am not as diligent as I should be I am becoming more and more aware.

Apr 20, 2019 04:02 AM #18
Rainmaker
3,161,176
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

It is an ever watchful situation EVERYWHERE these days...our brokerage and title company are on high alert and we work at secure measures for ourselves as well....great post ...Happy Easter Jeff !

Apr 20, 2019 05:57 AM #19
Rainmaker
3,751,544
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good afternoon Jeff Dowler, CRS ,

I'm so glad Carol Williams feature you post in her Second Chance Saturday series! What great info to share with us. I've been changing passwords and making them more secure its just so time consuming! Hope you have a wonderful Easter week-end!

Apr 20, 2019 01:56 PM #20
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Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

                                        

                                                      Thank you, Jeff. 

Apr 20, 2019 07:02 PM #21
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Kat Palmiotti 

It's pretty scary what is going on out there with regard to hacking, spam and more. But there is a lot we can do to help protect ourselves.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jeff

Apr 21, 2019 08:28 PM #22
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Sheila Anderson 

No doubt most of us can do a better job of being aware and taking action to protect ourselves. Education is the first step! Thanks for stopping by!

Jeff

Apr 21, 2019 08:30 PM #23
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Happy Easter back at you, Sally K. & David L. Hanson 

We all can likely do a better job of protecting ourselves,  and must be ever-vigilant!

Jeff

Apr 21, 2019 08:32 PM #24
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR 

Hope you had a wonderful Easter, too! Mine was great - spend time in the desert withour 2 youngest grandkids and the parents!

I agree with you on the passwords. I have an amazing list of them and try to update, at least some of the key ones, regularly!

Jeff

Apr 21, 2019 08:33 PM #25
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Kathy Streib 

Thanks for including me in your list. I'm flattered! But it's important stuff!!

Jeff

Apr 21, 2019 09:25 PM #26
Rainmaker
1,946,825
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Southlake, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Jeff Dowler, CRS - I got CE credits for attending this class too. It was terrific!

Apr 22, 2019 12:16 PM #27
Rainmaker
493,212
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I've not heard of that tip for creating passwords--the three steps. I just write them down and do not create accounts for any sites I don't use on a regular basis. Wire fraud discussed with customers up front!

Apr 22, 2019 03:06 PM #28
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