Over the past few years, the number of real estate wire fraud incidents has steadily climbed. This past year, real estate wire fraud losses reached an all-time high. More than ever, businesses managing different parts of the real estate transaction feel immense pressure to get robust security programs off the ground.
While well-detailed security procedures are a must for businesses of all sizes, there are a number of tactics businesses can quickly deploy to safeguard their organization and protect their clients immediately.
Raise user awareness (employees, partners, and clients)
At Qualia’s Future of Real Estate Summit, cyber security expert Robert Fly noted that nearly 90% of security breaches are due to human error. The majority of cyberattacks are carried out using social engineering tactics that trick victims into sending sensitive information or clicking on malicious links that will infect their network or device.
Typically, a criminal disguises himself as a trusted contact to lure someone into completing a desired action. This is why it’s important for real estate professionals to understand security basics and what different scams may look like.
Providing staff with adequate security training is a critical baseline; however, it’s also important to create a culture of security that motivates teams to make daily security habits part of their DNA. (Read here for tips on creating a security culture). This will make every team member accountable for the security of the entire organization.
Additionally, it’s equally important to educate consumers and transaction partners on the cybersecurity issues plaguing the industry. Home buyers are often unaware of wire fraud threats and are not familiar with what these types of attacks may look like. Real estate professionals can act as advisors to help educate homebuyers on how to spot potential wire fraud attempts. The security of your transaction partners is also critical for protecting client information and your business — when one transaction member is exposed, everyone is vulnerable to the attacker and at risk.
Leverage your software provider’s security features
Best-in-class digital security is no longer “just an option.” Businesses of all sizes must work with technology partners that meet ALTA best practices and offer the highest standards for user data security. Software providers that meet baseline security benchmarks will offer the following features that your team should consider enabling immediately.
2 factor authentication (2FA) and multi-factor authentication
This feature requires a user to submit 2 or more forms of authentication to gain access to a system. For example, upon logging into Qualia, users that have enabled 2FA will receive an SMS message to their trusted cell phone with a code that they must enter to gain access to Qualia. This ensures that even with a password compromise, a criminal could not access the system.
This feature allows an admin to specify the IP addresses that are allowed to access the system. This ensures that an unknown device cannot access the system to retrieve sensitive information.
(For Qualia users who want to turn on these features, click HERE to access Qualia Knowledge Base, which offers step-by-step instructions for enabling 2FA and allowed IPs)
Use password managers
One of the most basic security measures is setting up unique, secure passwords for every application, website, and portal that requires login credentials. The same password should never be used twice. To keep track of multiple passwords, set your team up with password managers such as LastPass, which generate secure passwords and save all passwords in a secure online vault.
Configure a Sender Policy Framework (SPF)
A Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is a technique that helps prevent criminals from using your domain to send spoofed emails to your partners and customers. An SPF record allows businesses to specify which IP addresses are authorized to send emails from your business domain.
The above measures are baseline tactics every business should employ. As more organizations adopt security best practices, there’s hope that the ever-rising security incident tally will decrease.
To learn more about Qualia’s best-in-class security features designed to protect your business and clients, click below to visit the Qualia Trust Center.