3 cybersecurity tips for working from home

3 cybersecurity tips for working from home

It’s a data thief’s dream come true — millions of professionals working from home computers and leaving themselves exposed to digital burglary.

A recent report by cybersecurity firm McAfee noted a 630% increase in cyberattacks on cloud services since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Real estate professionals could be at greater risk, too, according to the report. McAfee’s “Cloud Adoption and Risk Report: Work From Home Edition” charted a 50% increase in cloud computing across all industries between January and April of 2020, while real estate and construction cloud computing jumped 63% during that time.

Cybersecurity specialist Robert Siciliano, founder of Protect Now LLC, said real estate professionals should immediately take a few key steps to make themselves safer. After all, he noted that phishing, hacking, spoofing — every category of electronic fraud, essentially — is on the rise. “There’s a coordinated effort by criminal hackers to take all the existing scams from the last 10 to 15 year and direct them to COVID-19,” he said.

1. Update, update, update

Siciliano said that, above all else, those working from home need to make an investment in new technology. “You can’t work on an old device that has Windows 7 on it,” he said, noting that outdated operating systems are not regularly updated for cybersecurity, which leaves users open to scams. While it might be a tough sell to make a substantial investment when many face the prospect of reduced income, the financial impact of being a victim of cyber fraud could be much greater, Siciliano said.

2. Check the age of your modem and router

Be honest: When’s the last time you updated your cable modem and router? Siciliano said it’s crucial to do so every five to six years. Most people only switch out when the device slows down or ceases to function properly, but security should be the main concern for your connection to the internet. Failing to do so could mean lost clients, lawyers fees and a damaged professional reputation, he said.

3. Is your connection secure?

This is cybersecurity 101, according to Siciliano, but many people still are unaware they need to encrypt their Wi-Fi connection with password protection. Failure to do so means anyone with a computer within 300 to 500 feet can connect to your system. “Enable WPA or WPA-2 encryption on a home Wi-Fi router,” he said, advising those working from home to Google the make and model of the router and the term “setup.”

The National Association of Realtors has also provided an abundance of information about cybersecurity with details on everything from avoiding cyber liability to its data security toolkit.

Learn which CRM tools can help you grow your business in our new special report

Wondering how customer relationship management tools (CRMs) are evolving to meet today’s challenges? Agent Publishing surveyed readers of their magazines in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston and Miami about what tools they use for relationship management. The report also gathered readers’ opinions about CRM tools on the market, breaking down respondents into three categories: brokers, team leaders and managing brokers.

Agent Publishing looked at the question from the other side of the coin as well. The report analyzed various CRMs to understand which ones offer the best functionality for broker needs. It also collected pricing and subscription breakdowns, various integrations prioritized for real estate professionals and interviews with CRM executives to gain insight about the next CRM advances.

As a tool to manage and build a client base, CRMs traditionally provide a centralized location where real estate businesses can store customer data, and compile marketing information and property listings. Only 7% of respondents told Agent Publishing they don’t use some version of a CRM.

While CRMs have been a vital tool in real estate for many years, CRM companies are adapting to shifts in real estate sales techniques. Sphere marketing, a strategy focused on selling to people a broker has a relationship with or to people who are in the agent’s sphere, has grown in popularity so much that many CRM companies are now catering to agents’ needs in this regard, according to York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks.

“The real estate CRM industry is waking up to understand what we’ve known for five years: Sphere marketing is the way to make the biggest impact,” said Baur in the report.

Providing brokers a CRM that can capitalize on personal relationships is at the core of CRM provider PipeDrive, according to the company’s global head of inside sales, Raul Perdigao.

“In real estate, the broker guides the buyer and seller as a friend, confidant, pseudo-psychiatrist and anchor. A CRM should be the super administrator assisting the process,” he said in the report.