Staying safe on social media

Now, perhaps more than ever, real estate folks should be cautious with their social media presence and make sure they are keeping up to date on the latest in cybersecurity, according to the National Association of Realtors and Bay State Realtor magazine.

NAR has a trove of webinars and other information about social networking, smart phones, e-mail and online safety, and Bay State has dedicated a recent issue to the topic of Realtor safety.

MAR advises that agents and brokers become more familiar with their online accounts if they’re not already; make sure their privacy settings are set properly; be selective in who they allow into their social circles; and think before they post.

One place to start with better securing your online presence is by setting up a Facebook business page, rather than using a personal Facebook profile to promote your business. The pages “are known for their marketing capabilities, but they also allow you to keep your personal and professional posts separate,” the MAR article noted.

MAR also suggests taking a closer look at settings on social media accounts to customize who can see what on your various pages. The association suggests keeping profiles like Instagram public, otherwise followers must request permission to follow your posts.

Although it might make your following look more robust, take a closer look at who is allowed to follow your social media accounts and be selective on who makes the cut, MAR suggests.

“You should carefully vet future friend requests, but you can also clean out your current list of friends and followers, too. Delete anyone you don’t know and anyone you don’t want seeing your personal information,” the article suggested.

Finally, take a step back and evaluate what you’re posting before you hit the send button. Ask whether it is the right kind of post for your platform, according to MAR.

“For example, do you want to share your current location on a public business page, or is that something to share with close friends only? Do you want to share silly, personal photos with a wide audience in Instagram or are those better for your Facebook Stories?”

For more on cultivating your social media presence, watch AgentEDU’s courses on Yelp for Your Business and Developing Your Professional Image.

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.