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Cybersecurity in Real Estate: Tips and Best Practices

Marino & Marino, P.C.    Source: rexera.com

We live in a world where every click could jeopardize our most sensitive data and financial assets. That’s the reality. And no niche or business is immune, including title and escrow companies. 


The real estate industry sustained $396M+ in adjusted losses in 2022* due to business email compromise(BEC) scams, as reported by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). 


Sophisticated cyber threats lurk around every digital corner. As processes inevitably continue to digitalize, companies should put in place robust cybersecurity measures that protect their business and clients.


In this article, we’ll explore practical cybersecurity tips and strategies that help title and escrow companies combat the rising threat of cybercrime and stay ahead in data protection.


The first step in enhancing network security is identifying the digital assets that need protection. These can include: 

  • client databases

  • financial records 

  • real estate transactions

  • personal information 

Once identified, a plan should be put into place to protect these assets. This plan should detail how the data is stored, who has access to it, and what security measures are in place to protect it.


10 Tips on Securing Communication Channels in Real Estate

Securing communication channels is crucial for maintaining the confidentiality and integrity of sensitive information. Implementing the following tips can help safeguard your communication channels from unauthorized access and data breaches.


1. Employee Training

Unfortunately, employees are often the weakest link in cybersecurity, making them a usual target for cybercriminals. 


To address this, your company should provide regular training on spotting fraudulent emails, safe online behavior, and the importance of strong, unique passwords

Instruct all parties involved in a transaction to call before wiring money to verify the details and avoid scams. Establish protocols for reporting any potential security incidents.


2. Strong Password Policies and Multicaftor Authentication

We’ve all been there: using the same password for multiple accounts and software. It gets complicated to track all the complicated passwords for each platform, but that puts us and the business at risk. To remedy the situation, your business can take advantage of password managers. 


They help you and your team create unique and strong passwords and encrypt them so they are safe and secure and all in one place. They also aid productivity by auto-filling password fields. 


Another security measure to implement here would be to use two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA), which adds an extra layer to access control. 


Microsoft’s research indicates that 2FA can block over 99.9% of account hacks. Adding a business practice for 2FA can mean the difference between a blocked attempt and a full-blown data breach. It’s a simple yet effective strategy to validate user identity.


3. Data Encryption

Data encryption helps safeguard sensitive client information, prevent unauthorized access, and ensure data security. 


Title and escrow companies should actively encrypt emails, documents, and transactions with personal or financial details before sharing them with clients, lenders, or transaction parties.


4. Dependable Wi-Fi Networks

Don’t forget to secure your Wi-Fi networks with strong encryption, unique passwords, and regular monitoring to prevent unauthorized access.


Regularly update your Wi-Fi router’s firmware to ensure it has the latest security enhancements and patches to protect against vulnerabilities.


Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) for an extra layer of security when accessing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi networks.


5. VPN Technology



Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology is another crucial tool for enhancing cybersecurity in real estate. VPNs encrypt internet connections, making it much harder for cybercriminals to intercept and steal data. They are beneficial for employees working remotely or using public Wi-Fi networks, both of which can expose sensitive data to potential threats.


6. Secure Document Sharing Platforms 

Secure document-sharing platforms help you share sensitive information while maintaining confidentiality and security. These platforms employ encryption, access controls, and other security measures to protect documents from unauthorized access or data breaches. 


Among the most popular data-sharing platforms are Google Drive, Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud Drive, and Microsoft’s OneDrive. 


7. Threat Detection Systems

Deploy firewalls and intrusion detection systems to monitor and control traffic entering and leaving your network. Update that software regularly to ensure it’s equipped to detect and respond to the latest threats.


Consider implementing a security information and event management (SIEM) system to centralize and analyze security event data from various sources and detect threats comprehensively.


8. Regular Software Updates

Neglecting software updates is similar to leaving your digital door open. Email hackers exploit outdated systems. 


Regular software updates address known vulnerabilities. By keeping your operating systems, software applications, and antivirus programs up to date, you ensure there are no doors left open for hackers to sneak in through.  


Using automatic patch management software can help you set and streamline your security updates so nothing is left to chance. Here is a list of helpful tools. 


9. Regular Data Backups

Consistent data backups help recover crucial information lost during cyber incidents. Proper backups can be crucial in the event of a data security breach. This can ensure that your company quickly resumes operations without giving in to ransom demands.


10. Secure Vendor and Partner Management

Title and escrow companies often work with numerous vendors, each of which can potentially expose the company to cyber risks. It’s important to ensure that these vendors meet your security standards.


 It is also a good practice to get an idea of your vendors’ security practices for protecting their customers’ data. This way, you can ensure that their measures are robust and effective.


Third-party relationships should undergo thorough due diligence, regular risk assessments, and clear agreements on security expectations and response protocols.


Tips for Cyber Attack Response and Recovery



One of the most important actions you can take is to develop a Response Plan. This action plan can enable your company to take quick and decisive action, thereby reducing the impact and aiding in recovery. 


Regular testing and evaluation of your cybersecurity systems are also crucial. By consistently scrutinizing their robustness, your company can respond to and handle real-world threats more effectively and efficiently.


An extra step you can make is to analyze cyber incidents. Any malicious activity, no matter how small, can be analyzed to improve future security measures and prevent a recurrence of the incident.


Conclusion


Cyber security is no longer optional but a mandatory aspect of real estate operations. The tips shared in this blog post can help your company educate stakeholders, fortify systems, and make sure you’re ready to tackle cyber threats.


Remember to update your defenses regularly, foster a culture of security awareness, and always be prepared for the unexpected. By doing this, you can protect the valuable data that your clients entrust to you.


Here at Marino & Marino, P.C. we provide every real estate transaction safety and securely. We take pride in our Cybersecurity efforts and will always ensure your safe and easy home buying or selling experience. Learn more at our site and contact us with any questions!

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