Top 5 Real Estate Security Tips

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As a real estate agent, security is a high priority, but there are many security features that we tend to overlook simply because of convenience or because of a lack of knowledge about the features. But you don't have to be tech guru these days to have top-notch security. Powerful security programs are available to everyone, and are much easier to use than security programs in the past. And there are many security features that everyone should activate in order to keep data safe. In this article we will take a look at the top 5 real estate security tips.



 

How To Securely Encrypt And Transfer Files


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Real estate agents deal with a variety of confidential files and sensitive data, sometimes on a daily basis. Many real estate agents have chosen to work remotely, which increases the risk of data leaks or security breaches. Email has most often been used to send small files, but email is not secure. With recent revelations about NSA monitoring, even more concerns have been raised about file transfer security.


Cloud service docTrackr sends encrypted files

A new cloud service called docTrackr has recently been released, and is now being used by a number of real estate agents in order to securely send their files. This service allows the agents to encrypt their documents and files before the file ever leaves their possession. Once the file is encrypted, it is sent over a secure connection to the intended recipient. Real estate agents can set permissions which allow specific users to access, print, view, edit and forward the document. Agents can also choose to receive a return receipt when the recipient receives and opens the file. The entire process is simple and the interface is extremely user-friendly so users of all experience levels will be able to use it.

Send encrypted documents for free

DocTrackr offers a free plan which allows real estate agents to send up to 10 documents or files per month. If more document transfers are needed, agents can upgrade to a premium plan for $15 per user per month. This will allow users to send unlimited encrypted files, which prevents unauthorized access to your files and documents. Clients will feel much more secure knowing their agent is using encryption to keep their confidential data safe from prying eyes.



 

A Quick Look At Information Security


Define security policies

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Creating security policies is essential. If you have data flowing through different programs, devices and outlets, and no control over who has access to it, this can be a huge security risk. Policies must be set defining which users have access to data. Some users, such as clients and sources will not need information to sensitive company data, while some users such as secretaries and sources may not need access to confidential client data. These policies must be clearly defined in order to avoid a huge disorganized mess with many security holes. With the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement taking hold in many real estate brokerages, mobile access policies must be defined as well. Other policies should include passwords, antivirus, firewall, Wi-Fi, software development, logging and account management.  You can find many policy defining templates here


Secure the office network

If you have an office, it will have either a wired or a wireless network. A firewall (or router) should be configured to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic for protection of company data on all office computers, as well as agents (and clients) who may use laptops on the wireless network while visiting. Web filtering should be set up in order to prevent malware from being installed by malicious sites. An intrusion detection system must be in place to prevent hackers from gaining access, as well as logging so any intrusion attempts, successful or not, will be logged. The access point (such as a router) should use the strongest encryption available (WPA2) and should be protected by a very strong administrator password.

For more information, be sure to check out the Top 10 Tips for Real Estate Agent Information Security in order to better protect and control your information.



 

Recent Evernote Hack Raises Cloud Security Concerns Among Real Estate Agents


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Among the top security concerns of real estate agents is security in the cloud. When dealing with sensitive information, it's important that the data is kept safe. When Evernote was recently hacked this forced over 50 million users’ passwords to be changed. This hack joined a rising number of recent incidents that have included such large corporations as Dropbox, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. For real estate agents, this hack means that strong security measures must be implemented and maintained for complete data protection.


Password strength can determine level of cloud security

You may be surprised that sitting atop the top 25 worst passwords of 2012 is the weakest password of all, "password" and it is still the most commonly used password.

When choosing a strong password, any password on this list is to be avoided, as well as any passowrds on other most commonly used password lists, even up to the 10,000 most common password list. A recent study showed that 91% of all internet users have a password that appears within the top 1000 most common passwords. As there are now computers that can process 348 billion passwords per second, a top 1000 password will not take very long to crack. Another list that can be used as an example of passwords not to use is the list of passwords that Twitter found to be too common and banned them from the service. If you have concerns about your password strength, it can be found at http://howsecureismypassword.net/. This site can also tell you how long it would take a desktop PC  to crack it.

Creating a secure password

In this analysis by Troy Hunt on the science of password selection, a more in-depth look at how the common internet user creates a password is explored. As can be reasonably determined, longer passwords are harder to crack as it takes longer for  desktop computers to process the number of possible passwords before reaching the real password. The truth is, it’s much better to have a long password that you can remember than a shorter password that can be hacked by a powerful computer.

SplashData offers these tips for the creation of secure passwords:

  • Use passwords of eight characters or more with mixed types of characters. One way to create longer, more secure passwords that are easy to remember is to use short words with spaces or other characters separating them. For example, “eat cake at 8!” or “car_park_city?”

  • Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites. Especially risky is using the same password for entertainment sites that you do for online email, social networking, and financial services. Use different passwords for each new website or service you sign up for.

  • Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application such as 1Password that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites. The downside is that using a password manager isn't always possible and it isn't always practical either.

How to enable 2-factor authentication if it's available

Some cloud storage providers such as Google Drive and Dropbox offer extra security measures such as 2-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is a measure which requires the presentation of a minimum of two out of the three authentication factors:

a knowledge factor ("something the user knows"),

a possession factor ("something the user has"),

and an inherence factor ("something the user is").

Here is how it works: Once you enter your password as you normally would, a code is sent to your mobile phone or an app that you have previously approved to be used for this purpose. As soon as the code comes through, you enter it and can access the account.

How does this protect your data?

If your password is accessed by hackers (keylogger, sniffer, steals your laptop, etc.), they will still be unable to access your account because they will need your mobile phone to complete the secondary authentication. Strong password creation and keeping your passwords secure help prevent any unauthorized access to your data and this is important since, as a real estate agent, a lot of your data is confidential and needs to be protected. The 2-factor authentication measure handles this in the majority of situations, keeping your data secure.

Dropbox 2-factor authentication setup instructions: https://www.dropbox.com/help/363/en

Google Drive and other Google services setup instructions: http://support.google.com/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=180744

How to protect your cloud data with a secure backup from cloudHQ

Weak password creations and other poor security measures contribute to the majority of unauthorized accesses. Unfortunately, even with the best security measures in place, circumstances can still happen- for instance, if a hacker steals your laptop and your mobile phone, he will then be able to bypass the secondary 2-factor authentication measure. If the hacker deletes your data, this can be a huge blow to a real estate agent with multiple transactions and contracts stored in the cloud. This data doesn’t have to be lost, it can be securely backed up with one of the leading cloud storage backup services such as cloudHQ.

CloudHQ provides a secure backup of all of your data. The replication process is automatic and operates silently in the background, invisible to the user. It is continuous replication which means it automatically updates in real-time as changes are made to data, so you never have to worry about losing any data.

Let's use an example. You have anEvernote account and want to use cloudHQ to protect your Evernote data. You simply create two Evernote accounts. One is your primary Evernote account and the other is your backup account. CloudHQ provides a continuous replication of all data from the primary Evernote account to the secondary Evernote account. If a hacker gains access to your primary account and deletes your data (including from Evernote trash), the backup account will still hold a complete second copy of all of your data.

Strong passwords and security measures are usually enough to keep your data safe from unauthorized access. But if it does fail, the results can be devastating. You can keep access to your data at all times by utilizing the superior backup methods of cloudHQ.