As a real estate professional, your data and personal privacy are crucial for your reputation to earn client trust. Unfortunately, hackers and cybercriminals are always looking for vulnerabilities to exploit, making protecting your data and personal privacy from threats vital.
Technology advances can help you safeguard your privacy. For example, password managers like LastPass or Dashlane can help you create and store strong, unique passwords for all your accounts. In addition, Antivirus software like Norton or McAfee helps protect your devices from malware and other cyber threats.
For more tech-savvy agents, a Virtual Private Network or VPN can give you an extra layer of protection by encrypting your internet connection and keeping your online activities away from prying eyes. Also, adding a privacy-focused browser extension to Google Chrome, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, like HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger, or uBlock Origin, can increase your browser’s security.
But Agents also need to remember that almost all email is not encrypted unless you use an encrypted program like ProtonMail. This is where email best practices help protect agents: never share confidential or financial information via email, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
Here are five specific ways you can safeguard your data and personal privacy, from safe browsing habits to securing your devices and accounts:
1. Safe Browsing Habits:
Like email, one of the simplest ways to protect your privacy is by practicing safe browsing habits. Here are a few tips:
- Always keep your browser updated by changing your setting to auto-update.
- Use a reliable ad-blocker to minimize the risk of malicious ads.
- Be extra cautious when clicking on any link or downloading files, especially from unknown sources or unsolicited emails.
- Use a secure browser, like Google Chrome, Safari, or Edge, and enable their privacy settings to block third-party cookies and trackers.
2. Protecting Files Online and on Your Computer:
Securing online and offline files is essential to protect sensitive data for you and your clients. Here are some tips:
- Use cloud-based storage services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, as they offer encryption and multi-factor authentication.
- Always back up your data on external storage devices and/or secure cloud services.
- Regularly update your operating system and software to patch security vulnerabilities.
3. Securing Your Devices and Keep Your Online Accounts Safe:
Your smartphone, tablet, and laptop can be treasure troves of sensitive information. Keep them secure by following these best practices:
- Set strong, unique passwords for all your devices and change them periodically.
- Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on devices that support it.
- Regularly update your operating systems and security software on all your devices.
- Install reputable antivirus software and keep it updated.
- Use device encryption to protect stored data if your device is lost or stolen.
- Be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. Use a VPN to ensure a secure connection.
- Regularly review the privacy settings of your online accounts and limit the publicly visible information.
4. Conduct a Security Audit:
Conducting regular security audits helps you identify and address potential vulnerabilities. Here’s how to perform one:
- Review your online accounts and delete any unused or outdated accounts.
- Analyze your passwords and update weak or duplicate ones.
- Check for software and operating system updates and install them promptly.
- Carefully review your device and app permissions, ensuring that you’re only granting access to trusted sources.
- Evaluate the security of your home and office network and consider implementing a firewall or other security measures.
5. Educate Yourself and Your Clients:
Cybersecurity threats continually evolve, so staying informed is crucial in maintaining privacy. There’s also an opportunity to share your best practices with your clients.
Here’s how to stay ahead of the curve:
- Follow reputable sources, such as KrebsOnSecurity or the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and trends.
- Create a Google Alert called “computer viruses” or “malicious malware” to track the latest threats making news.
- Encourage your clients to adopt secure communication methods when working with you.
- Reach out to Tech Helpline whenever you have a question about security or privacy, as a tech analyst can walk you through the steps you need to take.
As a real estate agent, protecting your data and personal privacy is paramount to maintaining trust with your clients and safeguarding your reputation. Incorporating these strategies into your work routine will further bolster your defense against privacy threats and ensure that your data remains safe and secure.
Remember, it’s essential to remain vigilant and proactive in protecting your privacy and your client’s sensitive information. And if you are one of the 750,000 real estate agents with access to Tech Helpline, never hesitate to ask for assistance!