Marketing properties online, handling payment for sales and lettings, and building a repertoire of clients, the real estate business involves day-to-day use of data storage and sharing, email marketing, and taking secure payments online.
With consistent use of email services, real estate agencies should have a strong cyber security strategy in place to avoid falling victim to the ever-growing rate of phishing and cyber-attacks that take place over email.
Dealing with high-priced goods such as houses makes real estate agents increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
From malware to phishing, real estate agents need to be cautious of email scams that allow hackers to access personal information, as this could break down the reputation of trust they have with their clients.
Email security is an essential part of all businesses, but industries often vary in which security practices to prioritise.
By implementing certain strategies, such as creating secure email attachments to ensure sensitive information is protected, encrypting data, and taking the necessary steps to implement strong passwords, real estate agencies are able to protect their digital property.
Here are three of the best practices that we believe the real estate industry could benefit from focusing on when securing their emails:
1. Implement strong email passwords and two-factor authentication
Having a strong email password seems like a no-brainer for any cyber security strategy, but you may be surprised by how many businesses set their employees up with easily guessable passwords on their work accounts.
Failing to update passwords regularly or having weak passwords could put sensitive information in jeopardy, creating an exposed spot in the security system for hackers to enter.
For real estate agencies, there is a risk of being impersonated in a Business Email Compromise (BEC) attack, where cybercriminals hack into email accounts (usually through social engineering tactics) to assume the identity of senior employees and use their accounts to extract money from their clients.
This could be detrimental to real estate businesses, as clients looking to purchase property may be inclined to share personal information with whom they believe to be their real estate agent.
- Two Factor Authentication
With hackers becoming even more strategic and shrewd in their cybercrime, one of the main cyber trends for 2021 is adding in a two-factor authentication as another layer of security for email accounts and app logins.
Types of Two Factor Authentication
- Using two accounts: This first method for two-factor authentication is in the form of a second account (either a mobile or another email account) confirming that the new sign-in is from the correct individual.
- Using an authentication app: Another option for a two-factor authentication method is to use an app to authenticate the user. In this case, an app is downloaded onto the employee's mobile device and used as confirmation for every new sign-in.
2. Learn how to send sensitive information via email with encrypted attachments
Another puzzle that real estate businesses may come across is how to send sensitive information via email, as this is something that a real estate agent would be doing regularly (for example, sharing classified customer information or sending passwords via email).
Like most clients, property buyers and sellers value trust and efficiency in their agents, and any setback in email security could risk breaching both of these values.
Whilst encrypting data storage has become fairly commonplace in security systems, encrypting emails and email attachments should be enforced to increase the level of communications security and ensure that only the intended recipient is accessing information sent via email.
If the real estate agent also needed to send passwords in email attachments, then encrypting the communication would be essential.
To ensure that the information stored in emails remains confidential, one of the best practices for securing email attachments is adding a layer of encryption.
See how you can do this with Sealit here.
3. Stay up to date with the latest email cyber security threats
Staying up to date with the latest email cyber security threats will ensure that your real estate business is prepared for any potential attacks.
For real estate businesses who use email marketing tools to network and advertise to their clients, phishing attacks could become targeted to mimic these marketing techniques.
Being aware of potential threats also allows realtors to ensure their clients are protected.