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6 New Year’s Cybersecurity Resolutions for REALTORS®

As owner and chief tech expert at Integral, an onsite and remote computer and laptop repair service provider, Burton Kelso has an inside track when it comes to cybersecurity. He’s also a national speaker and YouTube personality who makes regular appearances on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, among other outlets. 
Knowing that cybersecurity is a big concern for REALTORS® that want to protect both their own data and their customers’ information, Kelso offers these six New Year’s cybersecurity resolutions for real estate professionals who want to up their cybersecurity games in 2022:

Don’t use your mobile number as your main business line. Kelso says this is important because the bad actors can easily use cell phones to commit SIM card fraud. If this happens, they’ll gain access to your online accounts through two-factor authentication and subsequently, your email account. “Once they get access to email, the criminals can send out fraudulent messages to buyers and sellers and trick them into giving up important information,” says Kelso.

Know the threats. “Be prescient of the main cyber threats that are around you,” Kelso advises. This includes three different categories of phishing scams: plain email phishing attempts (where criminals send you a scam message via email); text or SMS phishing; and voice phishing “or vishing,” where the bad actors use voice calls to try to scam or trick the broker out of their valuable data.

Set ground rules for communications. It may be phone only, or it may be email only, or it may be a combination of both. Whatever the broker’s preference is, the key is to make sure the buyer or seller understands what types of communication they’re going to get via voicemail, email, or even text messages when it comes to the transaction. “It can be easy for them to get a phishing message that results in wire fraud or another type of real estate-related scheme,” says Kelso. 

Do an identity check on yourself. Agents need to be cognizant of their actual identity online, says Kelso, and should regularly Google themselves to see what’s being said about them, where they’re being mentioned and other key points. They should also look themselves up on social media to make sure that there are no bogus accounts set up under their name. “Sometimes [brokers] will have their accounts duplicated because criminals are looking for victims to phish information from,” Kelso warns. 
Encrypt and password-protect all of your mobile devices. Make sure that all of your mobile devices are encrypted and password protected. “Any laptops that you carry around that you conduct real estate on need to be encrypted and password protected,” Kelso explains. If your device is lost or stolen, you’ll know that the information on it can’t be accessed or compromised.

Keep your technology up to date. If they’re using older devices, such as older phones or computers, agents may be at risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime. “Criminals count on agents to be using older computers and technology,” Kelson concludes. “Those who continue working on aging devices and software systems may be at a bigger risk of becoming cybercrime victims.”