How to Keep Your Real Estate Clients' Personal Information Secure

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 31 May 2017 08:03

By the job’s nature, realtors deal with sensitive client data every single day. When you’re dealing with information like client names, addresses, social security numbers, and financial information, you don’t want to play around. If you don’t want to find yourself tied up in an expensive lawsuit that could cost you your business, it’s crucial to make sure your clients’ secure data remains that way—secure.

Encrypt your data.

Any time you send unencrypted information through the internet, you’re just asking cybercriminals to come sniffing around. If you are storing or transmitting sensitive customer data, then you should be encrypting that data—no exceptions.

Install—and regularly update—firewalls and malware protection.

Make sure your system always has data leak prevention software installed, and always keep those tools up to date. If you run a digital security program that hasn’t been updated in a year, that essentially means that you’re protected against the threats that were prominent a year ago.

Malware is constantly evolving. Hackers are constantly developing new ways to get around digital security measures, so you need to make sure that your network is protected with the newest defenses. If your digital security provider releases a patch, make sure that you’ve installed it on your network within the next day or so.

Monitor your website for malware.

Malware is often transmitted through websites rather than via email. Particularly if customers process payments through your website, make sure that your website hasn’t been compromised. Monitor your site regularly, checking for potential anomalies. If you don’t have the capability to do this yourself, then consider hiring a third-party website malware monitoring service. These firms keep your website and customers protected from malware and will notify you when it detects that your site has been compromised.

If you keep physical copies of information, store them in a secure location.

As the world has become more digitally connected and awareness has grown regarding cybercrime, many firms begin to neglect the security of their physical data. If possible, avoid creating a hard copy of any document that contains sensitive information. If this is impossible, then keep those documents in a secure location. Shred paper documents containing sensitive data unless it is absolutely necessary to keep them. Keep those documents you must have under physical lock and key.

Develop a plan for if a breach occurs.

Even if you’ve done everything right and put all the proper security protocols in place, there’s always the chance that a cybercriminal could find his way through your defenses, causing a breach. In the event that such a breach happens, you and your staff need to be prepared to respond.

In addition to holding regular training sessions to ensure that your team is fully aware of the preventative measures you have already installed, run your team through drills of what to do in the event of a breach. Assign each task that needs to be completed to a specific team or individual so that you can be certain it’s being taken care of. Know which countermeasures you have in place, as well as who is responsible for it.

Don’t Keep Sensitive Client Data Any Longer than Necessary

While it may be more convenient to simply file away your clients’ secure data in case you need to reference it again in the future, once the immediate need is gone, it may be wiser to just get rid of it. Real estate and mortgage brokers can be a very tempting target for cybercriminals, because they deal in particularly valuable information. Sometimes, it’s necessary for you to keep sensitive data about your clients, but if you only keep the information it is absolutely vital for you to have, then it is easier to focus your efforts on protecting that data.

If you want to build a relationship of trust with your clients, one of the first things you need to be able to demonstrate is that you can keep their data safe. The instant that data is breached, you lose all credibility, which will strongly affect both current and future client relationships. In the end, putting in the effort and investment now will keep your business running smoothly in the future.

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Carol Evenson

Carol is a home renovation specialist with a background in organization and sales. She assists realtors with business management and growth.

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