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11 Ways to Outsmart Security Threats in 2015

January 06 2015

password usernameIf last year is any indication, security will be continue to be a big topic in 2015. For real estate, the biggest story of the year was undoubtedly the tragic death of Realtor Beverly Carter, which ignited concerns about personal safety across the industry. Other incidents, like the cyber attack that took down's website for several days, underscored the increased level of threatsincreased level of threats witnessed in 2014.

It's not all doom and gloom, though, and there are plenty of ways you can educate and protect yourself in the year ahead. To give you a leg up, we've compiled a list of resources to keep you and your data safe in 2015.

Smart Web Surfing

I'm going start this with a plea: If you're using Internet Explorer, please stop. Stop now. Not only is IE subject to security vulnerabilities and frequent attacks, it also offers an inferior browsing experience. Honestly, the best thing you can do for your online safety is to consider switching to an alternative like Chrome or FireFox. Be sure to stay current with all application updates, too!

Once you've got your browser squared away, these tips point the way to safer surfing:

Protect the Integrity of Your Transactions

A typical real estate transaction requires hundreds of pages of legal documents. To keep things simpler and more organized, many real estate agents have turned to eSignature and transaction management solutions. If you're hesitating over making the switch to a digital solution, read E-Signature Security: A Primer for Agents to learn how electronic signatures are safer than pen-and-ink ones.

The next question, then, is which solution is best for you? There are dozens of options on the market today, but not all of them offer the same data protections. Selecting one with lax data security standards can jeopardize the legality of an entire transaction. For more on selecting a secure solution, see 8-Point Checklist for Evaluating eSignature Security.

Problems can also arise from other agents who aren't using secure solutions. To learn how to spot an unsecured digital document, see Can You Trust That eSignature? How to Spot a Tampered Document.

Mobile Security Matters

With agents more reliant on their smartphones and tablets, mobile security is crucial. After all, it's not uncommon for agents to have apps for their CRM or transaction management solution on their mobile device. A breach of all of that sensitive data is a potential disaster waiting to happen.

First, mobile safety demands that you be aware of the networks you're connecting to. You should be okay on a secure home or work wireless connection, but beware public wi-fi! If that's the only choice you have, these four public wi-fi tips help with harm reduction. For specific ways to keep your cell phone (and tablet!) secure, see 7 Smartphone Security Tips for Real Estate.

Computer and Data Security

As we mentioned earlier, security threats are at an all-time high. You can stay safe by implementing "defensive layers" around your data. See Data Security for Real Estate for more details.

Viruses are another big threat to your data. Here are a few solutions that can keep your PC out of harm's way. However, even if your computer does contract a virus, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Regular backups will preserve your data even in a worst-case scenario. See Data Backup Options for more.

Personal Safety in the Field

Last, but most importantly, agents need to keep their own personal safety in mind. No matter what, please trust your intuition. If a situation doesn't feel right, leave. No one wants a repeat of the tragedy from last fall. These tips and mobile apps can help:

So tell us -- What are your biggest safety concerns for 2015?