Why real estate agents need to think about cyber security
In a former life, Jason Frazier was an information security professional. Today, as the CIO of Mason McDuffie Mortgage and the @RealEstateCIO, he still takes it very seriously. He contributed this post after an exchange on a Facebook Group.
I did a training class last year for realtors on Cyber Security. The subject was the Wire Fraud Scam.
This happens quite a bit in the mortgage industry, and it absolutely does not need to happen. I just read a post in another Facebook group where an agent’s client lost $72k. In this scam, it is almost always the agent’s email that is hacked or spoofed.
- Stop using a “freemail” account to conduct business. Freemail is like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, etc. It’s a free email account. Not only is it unprofessional, but these are the easiest to hack and spoof.
- Use a complicated password for your email. I cannot stress this enough. When I work with a Realtor, almost nine times out of ten, they are using a simple password like FavoriteSportsTeam97 or LastName1234. To have a complex password it should be at the very least 12 characters long with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, special symbols, and numbers. It should NEVER be a name.
- Invest in antivirus software and update your system regularly. This is especially important for Windows users.
- Always, always, always advise your clients to call and verbally confirm wire instructions. Advise them not to use any information contained in the email to contact the sender. If they don’t know who to contact, you should be their first call to confirm.
- If you are in a team (TC/VA/etc.) make sure they adhere to the same cyber-security practices as listed above.
- Do not let kids/family use your work computer. Kids are the #1 reason your computer will get a virus/malware.
- Stick to mainstream websites for travel, news, and shopping. Just because it shows up on the first page of Google does not mean it is a safe website. Stay away from “clickbait” websites with headlines like, “You won’t believe what he/she looks like now…”
Thanks to Jason for sharing this critical information. Check out Jason’s other content here on the Adwerx blog.