SAAS And Real Estate In The Cloud
If you are a real estate agent that is into technology and the cloud, you are probably familiar with Software as a Service (SaaS) in the cloud. Many real estate agents already use SaaS in the cloud
, and you probably already do in some form as well. Many real estate agents that use SaaS are wary (and rightfully so) about a number of issues and challenges including security, cost, data backup and recovery and other possible disasters that could happen in the cloud. In this article, we will take a look at what SaaS is, how it is used in the real estate office and in the field and how to prevent any cloud disasters associated with SaaS from happening to you.
Software as a Service apps are quickly becoming more popular in real estate brokerages everywhere. An SaaS app is software that is based in the cloud, so it performs the same functions as software installed on your computer, but you can access it from any device that has internet access instead of having to install software on all of your devices. Some of the most popular SaaS apps that are used in real estate brokerages today are
- Evernote: Used for taking notes, snapping photos, clipping web articles, audio clips and much more.
- Google Apps: This powerful document management suite allows real estate agents to quickly create, edit, delete, share, sign and save documents, spreadsheets and presentations from any mobile device or computer that has internet access.
- Dropbox: The most popular cloud storage provider, offering free space, unlimited size file sharing, simple file sharing, strong encryption and security measures.
- Box: Similar to Dropbox, it offers free space, but does have file size limits. It also offers the strongest security measures as it is HIPAA and HITECH compliant.
- Microsoft SkyDrive: Microsoft's cloud storage. If you have Windows 8, you are no doubt familiar with SkyDrive as much of the storage and apps are stored in the cloud on SkyDrive.
- Basecamp: That's right, the premier project management tool in the world is SaaS. Based in the cloud, Basecamp provides real estate agents with all the tools they need to successfully manage cases and other projects from any location with internet access.
Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news first: 1 out of 3 Companies Lose Data in SaaS
. Okay, so now you're thinking that SaaS is not secure, right? Wrong. The sad fact is- human error still accounts for the number one reason for data loss in the cloud. And unfortunately, security cannot predict human error and therefore it is very hard to guard against it. But there is one cloud service that stands against human error, human stupidity and even purposeful malicious human deletion. This cloud service is cloudHQ
The cloudHQ backup and replication service works by providing a complete backup of all of your cloud data to a backup account on a completely separate cloud service. So if your brokerage uses Dropbox for all of your cloud storage needs, the backup account could be on a separate cloud service such as Google Drive or Box. You choose which folders and files you wish to have backed up and cloudHQ does the rest. All new files added to the shared folders in the main account will be instantly replicated to the backup account. So now if you or your coworkers or anyone else with access to the cloud account accidentally (or purposely) deletes files or important documents, there will always be a secondary copy of all of your files and documents on the backup account. Recovering files is quick and easy and only takes minutes. Most cloud services offer file recovery, but only for short periods up to 30 days. After that period of time, your data is gone forever, unless you have a secure backup system like cloudHQ. Human error is prevalent and is still the number one cause of data loss in the cloud, but with cloudHQ, you can combat human error and defeat it easily by maintaining a safe and secure backup of all data in the cloud.
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.
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.
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.
When you deal with confidential client data and other sensitive documents, you know you must keep them safe from prying eyes. But the many benefits of Dropbox are too great to ignore, especially for real estate agents on the go. Dropbox already offers encryption for files during transit and while they are stored on Dropbox servers. But this doesn't give the user control over the encryption, Dropbox holds that control. Well, a new encryption program has been developed specifically for Dropbox users. SafeMonk
offers a second level of encryption that gives users complete control over the encryption.
SafeMonk has mobile apps for iOS and Android, so you will always have access to your files. When SafeMonk is installed on your computer or mobile device, a new folder will be created in your Dropbox folder. Every file you drop into this folder will be encrypted before it is ever uploaded to the Dropbox servers. A special encryption key is needed to access the files and if SafeMonk is not installed on the computer or mobile device, the files cannot be accessed in any readable format. This extra level of encryption gives you control over all your files.
If a hacker is able to gain unauthorized access to your Dropbox account, he will be unable to read your files, but he may possibly still be able to delete the files. For this reason, you need a cloud backup service such ascloudHQ
to ensure that you don't experience any data loss. Even if a hacker maliciously deletes files, or if you or another authorized user accidentally deletes files, you will always have a complete secondary copy of all your files backed up to another cloud service.