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Is Your Computer Protected from All the Newest Cyber Threats? A Quick Checklist

April 04 2023

computer securityAs a real estate agent, your computer is core to your business ecosystem, allowing you to communicate with clients, store and quickly access important documents, complete and process forms, and manage your schedule. However, with the rise of cyber threats, protecting your computer is more important than ever.

Here is a checklist with ways to protect your computer from the latest threats:

1. Install protective software

Installing antivirus and anti-malware software is one of the most basic ways to protect your computer from the latest threats. These programs work by detecting and removing harmful software that could compromise your computer's security. While many operating systems come with built-in protection, it's essential to invest in reputable antivirus software and keep it up to date.

2. Set up a firewall

A firewall is a program or device that creates a barrier between your computer and the internet. It can prevent unauthorized access to your computer and help prevent malicious software from attacking via the internet. Most operating systems come with a built-in firewall, as do many new routers, but you can also purchase a more advanced firewall if you want extra protection. If you are not sure what you need and have access to free support from Tech Helpline, reach out for guidance.

3. Keep your systems and software updated

Another essential step in protecting your computer is to keep your operating system and software current. Updates often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities, so it's crucial to download and install them as soon as they become available. Regular updates also ensure that your computer is running at its best.

4. Use strong passwords

Passwords are one of the most basic ways to protect your computer and online accounts. Use a strong password that combines uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords like "password," "admin," or "123456," or a variation of a family name with numbers, as these can be too easy to guess. And never use the same password for multiple accounts because if someone hacks your password for one account, they can access all of your accounts. Instead, consider using a password manager to generate and store unique passwords for all your accounts.

5. Be careful when opening email attachments or clicking on links

Phishing scams are a common way cybercriminals try to access sensitive information. Be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders or clicking on links in emails, especially if they look suspicious. If you're unsure about an email's legitimacy, contact the sender directly to verify the message's contents.

6. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is becoming more common than ever. When given the option – use it. It provides an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code or use a biometric scan in addition to your password. Many online services, including email providers and social media platforms, offer two-factor authentication as an option. Enabling two-factor authentication can make it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your accounts.

7. Remember to back up your data

Even with all the best protection in place, there's always a risk that a new threat could compromise your computer. That's why it's important to regularly back up your data to an external hard drive or cloud-based service. Then, if your computer is ever lost, stolen, or held hostage, you won't lose all your important files and documents.

Here are a few reasons why for real estate agents, in particular, protecting your computer is so important:

1. It protects your clients' information

As a real estate agent, you're responsible for protecting your client's personal and financial information. Cybercriminals can use this information to commit identity theft or financial fraud. Safeguarding your computer can reduce the risk of data breaches and protect your clients' information.

2. It prevents or reduces downtime

If your computer is infected with malware, it can slow down or crash, leading to costly downtime. By protecting your computer from the latest threats, you can minimize the risk of downtime and keep your business running smoothly.

3. It's good for your reputation

Your clients expect you to be professional and trustworthy. Maintaining your computer's security also keeps your reputation as a professional real estate agent. If your computer is compromised and sensitive information is leaked or stolen, it can damage your image and make it harder to win new clients.

4. Avoid legal issues

Because you also have a legal responsibility to protect your clients' information and maintain the confidentiality of their transactions, you must take measures to protect them. If your computer is hacked and client information is compromised, there is a risk of legal liability. You can minimize legal risks and protect your client's interests by taking proactive steps to protect your computer.

5. Help keeps your business competitive and clients happy

In today's digital age, most real estate transactions involve online communication, documentation, and digital signatures, like Form Simplicity from Florida Realtors. Suppose your computer is compromised, and you can't communicate with clients or access important documents. In that case, it can put you at a disadvantage compared to other agents who have invested the time and resources to protect their computers. You can keep your business competitive and clients happy by staying ahead of the latest threats and safeguarding your computer.

Finally, if you have access to Tech Helpline, like 750,000 other Realtors in the US and Canada do, you have easy access to tech analysts who can assist you with any computer-related issues or concerns. Don't hesitate to reach out and take advantage of Tech Helpline to ensure you protect your computer from the newest threats. Whether you need help with antivirus software, firewalls, or two-factor authentication, Tech Helpline is available to provide the support and guidance you need to keep your computer secure. Remember, by investing in your computer's security, you're investing in the future of your business.

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Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.