Cybersecurity checklist for real estate firms

Cybersecurity checklist for real estate firms

Cybersecurity has become essential for any real estate business that seeks to thrive or survive. When your real estate firm’s data, network, and systems are protected, you can then focus on growing the business instead of being worried continuously that critical applications, client information, and other confidential and sensitive data are not safeguarded.

Effective cybersecurity should start with email protection and password security. These two remain the most critical security measures for any organization because email and passwords are still two of the biggest security vulnerabilities.

Reports like the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) by Verizon confirm this. According to the study, 80% of hacking-related data breaches still involved compromised and weak passwords, while 29% of all breaches involved stolen ones. A Rapid7 Quarterly Threat Report of 2019 also revealed that credential stuffing, a brute force attack that uses stolen passwords, was a top threat across all industries.

Mimecast's State of Email Security 2019 reported that 73% of organizations fell victim to email-based attacks called business email compromise (BEC) or impersonation attacks. Phishing attacks via email still account for 90% of data breaches. And 53% of organizations experienced a business-disrupting ransomware attack via email.

Here is a checklist of essential security measures or best practices to protect your real estate firm.

Email and password security

  • Never trust unverified email attachments.
    Never click on unknown and unsolicited attachments or links in an email. Doing so can result in malware invading your devices, systems, and network.
  • Encrypt emails as much as possible.
    If not, use a secure transaction management platform or a document sharing program when sharing sensitive information.
  • Protect your passwords from prying eyes.
    Always guard credentials for email and other programs used in a real estate transaction.
  • Empty your inboxes regularly.
    Regularly purge inboxes and only archive essential emails in a secure location.
  • Use strong passwords.
    Use long, complicated passwords such as phrases or a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Don’t use the same passwords.
    Remind your agents and employees to never use the same password for multiple accounts. Professionals are known to not only use the same password for multiple accounts, but also for both work and non-work accounts. Hackers, especially those who launch credential stuffing attacks, take advantage of this.
  • Consider a password manager.
    To regularly change passwords and help enforce a good password policy, use a password manager.
  • Add a layer of authentication over your passwords.
    To protect your email accounts and further strengthen passwords, require two-factor authentication or multifactor authentication for your firm.

Other essential security measures

  • Don’t delay installing updates.
    All security software such as antivirus and anti-malware software and firewalls should be kept active and up to date. Operating systems and other applications must also be updated, as these updates come with the latest security patches based on recent threats.
  • Restrict what your staff and licensees download.
    Prevent your agents and employees from downloading unauthorized and unverified apps. These may install malware or breach privacy.
  • Regularly back up data.
    Employ a data backup and disaster recovery plan to regularly save copies of critical data, applications, and systems in a remote or online data center. Doing so can save your business from suffering data loss.
  • Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks.
    Avoid doing business transactions and communications over unsecured Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals can use public Wi-Fi networks to intercept communication and steal confidential data.
  • Know the relevant data security and privacy regulations.
    Stay informed of relevant state and industry regulations regarding data security, personally identifiable information, data-related business policies, and other legally required security-related business practices. These laws or rules have recommendations and requirements on security measures and impose hefty penalties for failure to comply.

At SpectrumWise, we help businesses succeed with 7 Layers of Security — information security policies, physical security, network and systems security, vulnerability programs, access control measures, data backup, and systems monitoring and testing. Find out how these solutions can benefit your firm.