You are viewing our site as a Broker, switch your view below:

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default
Hefty Security Breach Fines by the U.K. Under GDPR Regulation
The United Kingdom Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced substantial security breach fines on two large companies last week. British Airways and Marriott now are feeling the impact for security breaches of customer information in 2018. The £183.39 million ($230 million) fine for British Airways and its parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), is a record under the GDPR. Four days later, the U.K. data authority fined Marriott £99 million ($123 million) from a security breach in 2014 that was only found in November 2018.
MORE >
The Day I Learned of a Chilling Plot to Digitally Censor My Voice
This story is unusual and somewhat disturbing. Some of you may have seen a quick glimpse of my Amazon Echo 5 article a few weeks ago. A day after it was published, there was an incident causing me to redirect the page web address (URL) to the blog page of WAVGroup.com. It was a sunny, hot, and humid morning, the windows in my office fogged with condensation. I was beaming with pride because I published an article the night before that was fun to write. The premise of my article was to explore how technology was on a path to deliver content as a multimodal experience and its relevance to NAR MLS policy.
MORE >
Fail First Approach to Cybersecurity Is Costly
MORE >
Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4
Over the past month, we've been showing you what to do when an agitated person visits your brokerage, MLS, or association office. Today, our series wraps up with the final steps you need to take to deescalate a tense situation. Watch the video above to learn: How to guide an agitated person to a resolution by offering them options Why it's important to stress the consequences of each option Why respect and validation are crucial—and why ultimatums never work Sample scripts for offering options and validating their choice Need to catch up on this rest of this series? Check out parts one, two, and three here.  
MORE >
Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3
MORE >
Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 2
When an agitated visitor comes into your office, it's better to be proactive than reactive. If you can identify an angry person before as they approach, you can prepare yourself to de-escalate the situation--and keep you and those in your office safe. How can you do that? In this week's episode of "Real Answers," we'll show you exactly what to look for. Watch the video above to learn: The physical signs of an agitated person Why you need to lead the de-escalation process, not the visitor The body language to display to better calm a person--and the physical stances to NEVER take in a tense situation Want to learn more? Check out part one of this series, where we showed you what NOT to do when an angry person visits your brokerage, association, or MLS office. Then stay tuned for a new episode next week!
MORE >
Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors
MORE >
Friday Freebie: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need on Agent Safety
Your brokerage, MLS, or association can help keep agents safe by building a "culture of safety." That's according to a new guide to Realtor safety--a comprehensive 65-page ebook that includes everything from a full safety training guide, to lead assessment worksheets, free resources, and more. Want to snag your own copy? In this week's Friday Freebie, we'll show you how (no contact info required).
MORE >
A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 3
MORE >
When Hackers Attack: The Broker's Guide to DDoS
Any company that operates online can run into cybersecurity issues--and a particularly nasty tactic that hackers sometimes use is DDoS. These attacks are a lot like hurricanes; we can predict that they'll happen, but we never actually know when they'll happen or how powerful they'll be when they do. A DDoS attack can quickly take out websites and servers of any size, even if they're properly equipped to handle it. So today, let's take a quick look at what a DDoS attack is, why they're hard to defend against, and what you can do to safeguard against them.
MORE >
GDPR and Its Effect on the US Real Estate Industry
MORE >
eXp Realty Launches Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook
eXp Realty has announced its implementation of Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook. With this tool, eXp Realty now can better confirm who is safe or might need assistance in the event of a natural disaster or crisis. Now the company's more than 18,000 agents, brokers and staff across North America can more easily connect with eXp Realty staff who can provide help and valuable resources.
MORE >
This Website Is Not Secure!
MORE >
Privacy Regulation for Everyone Coming Soon
Similar to new data security and privacy laws sweeping the European Union and California, it is only a matter of time before new laws are required throughout the United States. This week's news is the U.S. House and Senate held hearings on data security and personal privacy. The timing of the first set of hearings on Capitol Hill aligns with the fact that several other states – such as Washington, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia – are on a pathway to either pass new or update their security and privacy laws.
MORE >
Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
MORE >
4 Key Questions to Ask about Cloud Data Security
The cloud is one of those things that we all use without realizing it. As soon as you ask your browser to save a password or even a credit card number for you so you can check out of Amazon a little faster next time (not that that's a real experience or anything), you're using the cloud. We tend to assume when it comes to the most important information we have. We trust companies to make sure it's safe, and we don't ask more questions. Why not?
MORE >
Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
MORE >
How the FBI Foiled a Wire Transfer Scam
Wire transfer scams continue to plague the real estate industry, but brokers are deploying countermeasures and collaborating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to catch these criminals. WAV Group was provided with an insider's overview of a recent victory by the FBI to shut down a huge ring of scammers. The story was amazing. The first thing that you should know is that a lot of these crime rings are operating out of Ghana, Nigeria, and other African nations.
MORE >
How to Connect to a Computer Remotely
MORE >
Clearing the Air: Cloud Security for Real Estate Brokerages
When you upload a document to the cloud, what do you imagine? It's not easy to envision where that document went; the idea of a cloud almost makes you think it goes up into the air like a wisp of smoke, up to where the clouds are floating—out in the open, where anybody can see it. That can be a scary image when we're talking about key personal information. The thing is, though, that isn't the reality of cloud storage.
MORE >
Phishing in Real Estate and Recruiting Experience
MORE >
Realtor Safety: Navigating Stairs without Making Yourself Vulnerable to Attack
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! We're continuing our new video series of safety tips for agents in the field. Last month, we learned how to open a door and lockbox without being vulnerable to potentially dangerous prospects. Today, we turn our attention to safety tips inside a home during a showing--how to safely navigate stairs. Julie and Lee with Real Safe Agent point out that the conventional wisdom--allowing your prospect to go all the way up the stairs before you follow them--is wrong. Why? Because it gives prospects ample time to turn a corner out of your line of sight and potentially get into an ambush position. How should you climb a staircase instead? Watch the short video above for more information and a demonstration. Tune in next time for more agent safety tips!    
MORE >
Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents?
MORE >
Realtor Safety: Opening a Lockbox and Door
We're re-running this popular agent safety video series from Real Safe Agent on our broker channel to highlight the importance of safety on the job. Brokers, please feel free to share and/or reuse this content on your own blog, website, social media account, internal communications, and beyond! In-person showings are fraught with potential dangers for real estate agents. So how can agents stay safe on the job? Today, we're introducing a weekly video series that shows agents all the subtle things they need to know to stay safe on the job--while still presenting themselves as a friendly professional. In this week's video, Realtor Jason Ralston of Conway Real Estate demonstrates how to open a lockbox or property door without turning your back on your prospect--a vulnerable position for Realtors alone in the field. Watch this short video to learn: How to subtly position yourself while chatting up your client in a friendly manner How to deal with tricky situations, like homes with an outside door that swings out and an inside door that swings in How to stay safe while treating your client in a warm, welcoming way If you found this video helpful, please share it with your colleagues--and be sure to tune in next week for more Realtor safety tips!
MORE >
Three Stories for You to Read: Amazon, Cybersecurity, App Dev
MORE >
Essential Tips for Protecting Client Data
With the number of data breaches increasing, it's essential now more than ever that all businesses take steps to protect customer data. The proactive approach is always preferable to reacting to a preventable disaster, which could cost a firm its reputation, clients, and money. Learn how to protect client information with a few solid tips to keep your customers happy and your business secure.
MORE >
A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 2
MORE >
GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
It's only been a week since GDPR has become a law and we need to start this week's discussion with a simple question. How many of you thought the GDPR was only about privacy policy change emails and subscription notifications we have received over the last few weeks? Well, that was just the beginning.
MORE >
A Brokers Guide to Cybersecurity
MORE >
How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance crisscrosses every business in the real estate industry. Yes, it's another acronym and it is not tech driven. Well, almost not tech driven. Citizens from countries outside of the US are serious about protecting their personal privacy. Every time I've had data conversations with my European colleagues, they constantly stress how important it is to protect personal information. While an important concern for us, most US citizens and companies are fairly indifferent on who we give access to our personal information. What happens with our personal data afterward is entirely out of our control. We only hope it is secure from access by hackers – meaning those who steal data and misuse it for personal gain. As we saw recently with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica – just like our EU colleagues – maybe US citizens should request to have more control over their personal data in the digital world. To learn more about GDPR and its impact, read "How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate" white paper.
MORE >
10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
MORE >
WAV Group Systems Audits and Integration
We are excited to have David Gumpper on the team here at WAV Group. Since joining our firm, he has been actively supporting our brokerage, MLS, and technology clients with a wide variety of systems audits and systems integrations. System Audits System audits come in a few forms at WAV Group. The first audit is a Security Audit. As you are aware, many firms collect personally identifiable information that must be kept safe and sound from hackers. These projects start with an overview of a firm's security policy. Strangely, we did not have much of an appreciation for the number of firms that do not have a security policy in place. If you do not have one in place, we can help you construct one. The next step is to evaluate your systems for compliance with your security policy. Understanding the holes in your security policy is the first step to mitigation of risk. Many of the security vulnerabilities can be easily patched; some require more work and thought. If you have not had a security assessment in a while, it's a good idea to have a checkup.
MORE >
All Computers and Servers at Risk from Spectre and Meltdown
MORE >
Can Blockchain Restore Trust in Real Estate Transactions?
Why are we even talking about trust in real estate transactions? In a poll of 1,147 adults, 67.5 percent of Americans reported that they do not trust real estate agents. This poll, sponsored by Choice Home Warranty, and released by Google Consumer Surveys in October 2013, rated real estate agents just slightly higher than journalists, who were not trusted by 74 percent of respondents. Based on a Gallup poll in 2012, real estate agents are trusted roughly as well as bankers and chiropractors. An August 1, 2016 post on Houwzer.com reported that the level of mistrust was nearly 73 percent for those between 18-24 years old. Houwzer, of course, has a personal stake in this discussion. Their agents are on salary, which they find supports trust more than commissions. But that does not negate the data.
MORE >
Why You Should Use HTTPS for a Safe and Secure Site
MORE >
Can You Get Protection Against Cyber Fraud?
Why Cyber Insurance? With the costs associated with running a business continuing to escalate, additional expenses are hard to justify. Cyber insurance is one of those costs most businesses will gamble on and decide to throw the dice to remove it from the expense sheet. A PWC white paper says that cyber insurance premiums will reach $7.5 billion dollars by 2020. It further says that "cyber-crime costs the global economy more the $400 billion dollars a year." This is big money and it will only continue to intensify over time. When evaluating the risk associated with systems being compromised by brute force and phishing attacks, cyber insurance can mitigate cost exposure for a business. Remember, it is no longer if, but when your system will be compromised.
MORE >
Stay Safe When You Use Drone Photography and Honor Others' Privacy
MORE >
Phishing: Preventing the Bait and Hook in the Pond of Security for Brokers
Remember a time when a fishing rod, some bait, and a lake was all that was needed for a quiet afternoon of relaxation and fun? Today, we need to deal with a different kind of "phishing." This phishing has gone wild in the digital world and has become the preferred method by the bad guys of obtaining easy access to your corporate email platform. Access to a wealth of desirable information that includes transactional information, wire-transfer directions, and personal identifiable information (PII) of your agents, staff and customers. The question becomes, "How can I protect my brokerage from becoming a victim of phishing scams?"
MORE >
Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 2)
MORE >
Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 1)
Gone are the days when the brokerage itself was the physical hub of agents' activities. Thanks to mobile apps and cloud-based solutions, agents are able to access everything they need from the field or their home office. That said, if the various apps your firm offers are unconnected from each other, it can result in both disorganization and low agent adoption of your solutions. One of the best ways to cure this mess is by setting up an office intranet—accessible from anywhere—that your agents can use to download files, access software, and see announcements and other communications. But which intranet solution is right for your company? Well, we highlighted two big intranet players in our 2017-18 Technology Guide, and today we'll take a closer look at one, DASH! for Brokers from Clareity. (Stay tuned tomorrow when we look at the second solution, WOLFconnect!)
MORE >
Zillow Protects Broker Data
MORE >
Home Office Security: What Every Business Owner Should Know
Running a business from home is a dream for many people. Your home office is more relaxed than a typical corporate office, but your security plans shouldn't be. An in-home burglary occurs every 15 seconds, according to a report from entrepreneur.com. That statistic becomes even scarier when you think about the valuable equipment, documents and otherwise that are sitting in your home office every day. Here's what you need to know about securing your home office, reducing the chances of a break-in.
MORE >
The IRS Warns Against These Tax Scams
MORE >
REALTOR® Safety Webinar: Get Smart about Smart Homes and Your Safety (9/14)
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 11:00 AM PDT Being safe starts at home, and by now we're familiar with most of the usual safety measures homeowners take - deadbolts, window locks, even basic security systems. But, in this brave new world of technology, what about smart home devices? What do you, as REALTORS®, need to know about these devices to best inform and protect your clients? What do you need to know for yourself to ensure your own safety? You may learn some things that open your eyes, and you'll definitely walk away with knowledge you can start using immediately. Register now!
MORE >
[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
MORE >
Groundbreaking Agent Safety Class and Study Announced
Austin-based Real Safe Agent is providing the student and instructor guide of their new Realtor Safety course to agents, brokers, associations, and Multiple Listing Services free of charge. The training material is uniquely effective because it's based on criminology and predator profiling. "This info is the first I've seen that is realistic," said Elizabeth Cooper-Golden, broker/owner of @Homes Realty Group in Huntsville, AL. "I appreciate it so much." "Because this class could prevent an agent from being a victim, this is something you make free to all; not something for which you charge money," said Wes Wiggins, VP Industry Relations for Real Safe Agent. The materials are available for free on RE Technology and at the company's website. The class was developed by Real Safe Agent's CEO, Lee Goldstein, and based on his own experience working with violent predators, as well as studies by noted researchers like Lawrence Cohen, Marcus Felson, Kim Rossmo and Ronald Clarke. "Our goal was to provide agents with practical knowledge of how to make their marketing, themselves, the properties, and showings as unattractive as possible to a predator without sacrificing attractiveness to a legitimate buyer," said Lee Goldstein, CEO of Real Safe Agent. The intent of making the student guide and the instructor guide freely available is to allow MLSs, associations, and brokers to teach the class on their own without having to pay third parties. To help those who wish to use the class within their organization or association, the company will also be providing train-the-trainer classes at no charge. To make arrangements for a Train-the-Trainer class, the company asks that people contact them through the "Contact Us" page on their website.
MORE >
Cyber Security: How Brokerages Can Protect Themselves
MORE >
10 Mobile Security Questions Brokers Should Be Asking
Did you know that nearly half of mobile apps on any given device have at least one major security vulnerability that threatens sensitive data? This is dangerous for real estate professionals who handle sensitive client information every day--often accessing this data from cloud-based solutions on mobile devices like smartphones or tablets. It's not just the devices themselves that expose this information to exposure--more often, it's user activity and behavior. A study by mobile security company NowSecure revealed that: 43% of smartphones don't have a password, PIN or pattern lock 50% connect to unsecured WiFi at least once a month 48% of mobile apps on any given device have at least one major security vulnerability that either leaks sensitive data or allows unauthorized access to sensitive data Brokers looking to protect their data from exposure can start by training agents on mobile security best practices, how to minimize the risks of public Wi-Fi, combating mobile malware. In addition, brokers can ask the following 10 questions, suggested by the security experts at NowSecure, to assess the risk to their data: 1. Do the apps that you've purchased or developed follow best practices for security? 2. Do you have visibility into the security of the mobile devices impacting your organization? 3. Is mobile security testing part of your app's development?
MORE >
Sex Offender Poses as a Fake Buyer in This Bizarre Home Showing
MORE >
Data Security is the Law
Most cybercrime experts say it isn't "if" your data will be breached, it's "when." And real estate brokers must understand that securing data isn't just good business practice — it's the law. Today, 47 states have data security and private protection laws on the books to safeguard consumers and businesses when breaches occur (Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands also have laws). Melanie Wyne, senior technology policy representative at the National Association of REALTORS®, says these state laws typically explain what constitutes a breach, how businesses or organizations should notify their clients when a breach happens, and whether there are any exemptions to the law. These laws also describe what kinds of personal information must be secured, such as social security numbers, driver's license numbers, and financial account information. Wyne says the laws may vary but that there is one common denominator: "What's true for all the state laws is that they require having encryption on any personal data." According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Massachusetts' data breach notification law is one of the most comprehensive in the country. It establishes minimum standards that any person, agency, or entity that owns or licenses personal information on Massachusetts' residents must meet and requires the implementation of "a comprehensive information security program." Some of the other requirements include security training for employees, secure storage, protocols for strong user authentication, prevention of terminated employees from accessing records containing personal information, and annual reviews of the scope of security measures.
MORE >
9 Ways to Keep Data Secure
MORE >
Groundbreaking Real Estate Agent Safety Study Announced
Real Safe Agent, an Austin based company, has retained the WAV Group to conduct comprehensive research into agent safety. The study will involve interviewing agents who have been victims of crimes and convicted felons who have committed crimes against real estate agents, as well as quantitative data collected from thousands of general safety survey results. "If we can identify specific circumstances, behaviors, and patterns that predators use to target and lure real estate agents then we can prevent the crime from occurring," said Lee Goldstein, CEO of Real Safe Agent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there has been a 300 percent increase in violent crime against professionals selling or leasing real estate since 2006. Previous safety research primarily used surveys to collect quantitative data about the opinions and habits of real estate agents regarding safety. This study differs from others in that it will collect qualitative data from victims and perpetrators. Additionally, the purpose of the research represents a paradigm shift in the real estate industry from "reaction" to "prevention." Marilyn Wilson, founding partner of WAV Group, said, "We now have the opportunity to uncover new information that could help save someone's life. I can't imagine any more meaningful or important work."
MORE >
4 Cyber Scams Targeting Brokerages
MORE >
Stay Ahead of Hackers
During the economic downturn, real estate pros were on high alert for scams by perpetrators who preyed on cash-strapped home owners desperate to stave off foreclosure. Today, a new wave of scammers is breaking into people's e-mail accounts to cull information about pending deals. The hackers—posing as sellers, title company representatives, or even other real estate agents—instruct buyers, agents, or attorneys to transfer funds related to the purchase to accounts belonging to the scammers, potentially swindling victims out of sizable sums. In addition, agents lately have been the target of ruses involving overseas cash "buyers" who ask for bank account information so they can supposedly wire deposits. Whatever the technique, hackers are finding ways to trick buyers, sellers, and practitioners by e-mail or phone to hand over large amounts of money. In many cases, the heists could have been prevented if the victim had verified that the instructions were legitimate before proceeding. "For anyone involved in real estate transactions, the key is vigilance and making sure that what is happening should be happening," says Peter Bolac, trust account compliance counsel for the North Carolina State Bar, which has received multiple reports of fraud involving wired funds in real estate transactions, including one involving a loss of $200,000. "Everyone involved in handling [transactions] has a duty to be sure their accounts are secure" and the procedures they follow include safeguards to protect clients. Hacking incidents, sometimes referred to as "spear phishing," have disrupted transactions in a number of states, including California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
MORE >
A Tech's Tale of a Real Life Schemer: The Fake Microsoft Scam Running Amok on Us All
MORE >
2015 Data Storage: Your Security Role
Brokers, coordinators, assistants, and agents all have responsibilities to keep data secure. Are you doing everything you could be to protect your clients? We combed through the National Association of REALTORS®' Data Privacy & Security Toolkit to bring you these tips. Brokers Make sure you have up-to-date policies on how to handle the storage, retention, and destruction of documents, databases, and e-mails. Ensure that everyone involved in your business receives regular training on the policies. Ask your lawyer to look over your policies to make sure you're in line with any and all privacy and data laws that have jurisdiction over your operations. Make sure employees and independent contractors understand that abiding by your company's data security program is an essential part of their duties. Provide employees and agents with data security training before granting them access to personal data. Strictly limit access to data. Know which employees/agents have access to personal information, and make sure anyone with access has a "legitimate business need" for the data. Have a procedure in place for ensuring that workers who leave your brokerage no longer have access to personal information. Make sure you know all the computers or servers where personally identifiable information is stored, and who has access to those computers and servers. Also, identify all connections to those computers/servers (via mobile devices, branch offices, etc.) and assess the vulnerability of each connection. If your agents or employees can use mobile devices to connect to your network or to transmit personal information, make sure they have password protections on their devices.
MORE >
Online, Safety Is Your 'Social Responsibility'
MORE >
Your Guide to Warding Off Cybercriminals: 7 Top Tips To Keep Your Data Safe Right Now
Despite significant advancements in security and data protection, hackers and cyber criminals linger around to pounce on open vulnerabilities. A stray password scribbled on paper or free-for-all public computer are any hacker's playground and too often people make the mistake of letting their 'data' guard down. The results are far from pretty. With more and more of our world online, we all hold accounts and passwords across a variety of sites and platforms; while our paperless transition certainly streamlines business processes, we need to be cognizant where and how we're fanning out our data in the digital world. While the best companies and systems, like DocuSign, have your back with bank-class and carrier grade security, you still need to take proactive steps to ensure that everything is locked down on your end. Given the frequency of the recent hacks and attacks, please keep a note of the following tips and tricks that will keep you safe: Keep operating systems and application patches up-to-date Install a trusted anti-malware suite and configure automatic updates Use different passwords for each website, online service and platform – Do not write these down in an insecure location Don't click on links in emails from untrusted senders
MORE >
Turn Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad into a Security Camera with the "Presence" App
MORE >
5 Tips to Protect Your Smartphone From Hackers
Hackers recently released thousands of private Snapchat pictures from users around the world. What makes this leak particular scary is Snapchat is suppose to delete messages seconds after they are viewed by the recipient. This further proves to never let your defenses down when it comes to protecting yourself online, even when using your smartphone. Here are some practical safety tips when conducting business with your smartphone. Tune out Hackers can access your data even when you're not directly using your phone through things like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication, and mobile data settings. Turn these settings off when you're not using them to limit access by unwanted guests. Make sure to check app settings because some programs will turn on these settings automatically. Phones get sick, too You know those phony emails asking for private information that gives your computer viruses? Those viruses can affect your smartphone, as well. They install applications on your phone that can give hackers access to your personal information, including your geographical location. Be wary of anything attempting to install software on your phone, especially from companies you do not recognize. Always make sure your permissions are set so that you have to manually OK all apps from installing. This can save your from any unexpected surprises.
MORE >
8 Safety Tips and Tools for Avoiding Tragedy
MORE >
Who Owns Your Consumer After the Close?
...And why isn't it you? It's no secret that most agents do a pretty horrendous job of keeping in touch with the consumer post-close. Knowing this and talking to clients about this issue for the past several years got me thinking about the typical homeownership lifecycle and who owns the consumer during the eight or so years between moves. Let's break it down: Not looking to make a move (approximately six years) During this time, unless someone from the brokerage has kept themselves front and center when it comes to the consumer's investment in, most likely, their largest asset, who are they talking to? Home improvement retailers and contractors, their HOA, interior designers, utilities, etc. Probably no agents or real estate companies in site. Thinking about making a move (12-18 months) My latest move was last August (from Atlanta to Miami). However, my wife and I started researching neighborhoods, etc. in December 2011--over 18 months before we actually closed. Our initial research was on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. We tried to talk to a couple of agents, but since we were not "hot" prospects, we were dropped pretty much right away. I don't recall looking at any local sites. Another year plus went by without a brokerage or one of their agents involved with us. I don't think our behavior is that uncommon, do you?
MORE >
Data Backup Options
MORE >
Public Wi-Fi Tips
We live in a world where everything is connected. From fully functional desktop computers to watches that can tell you who's calling without pulling out your cell phone. This is the time where everything and anything can connect to the World Wide Web. This ever-growing connectivity to the Internet also brings the growth of portable devices. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc. are growing while desktop computers are shrinking in numbers. This rise in portable devices also brings the growth of wireless networks. Almost every Internet Service Provider (ISP) now offers you a router with built-in wireless functionality, which comes standard with wireless encryptions. This is normally located on the side of the router to keep you safe and to keep unwanted people off of your network. Now let's say you are at the airport waiting for your plane when you need to jump online. Commonly used in places such as Starbucks and McDonald's, most airports have public wireless networks you may use as well. You just don't know whether or not the wireless networks you're connecting to have any sort of protection for you. Anyone can connect to a public wireless network. If a public wireless network is setup correctly, you shouldn't be able to see anyone else's computer showing in the network list. These are called Isolated Access Points. This, however, is not always the case and you'll need to take matters into your own hands. Here are some tips you may want to consider and follow. Always use "Encrypted Traffic" Encrypted Traffic is available when a website is secured. When you go to a site such as Gmail, the address starts with "HTTPS." If it does not have the "S" at the end, you're not on a secured site. Encrypted traffic means that the content will be encrypted between you and the website you're visiting to help keep prying eyes out of the connection. While this is not always possible, a good majority of sites will have a secure connection such as banks and online retailers.
MORE >
Data Security for Real Estate
MORE >
Realtor.com and Top Producer Back Online After Two Day Internet Battle
Move, Inc. reports that it is continuing to combat the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, which has interrupted its websites' operations since it began mid-day June 17. Move's technical team is working around-the-clock with the Prolexic division of Akamai Technologies, Inc., a leading DDoS mitigation service provider; other Internet security experts; and its network service providers to mitigate the attack and quickly restore operations. In connection with the attack, Move received a ransom demand, which it did not respond to. DDoS attacks on Internet-based businesses and associated ransom demands are unfortunately becoming more common. Move is consulting with appropriate federal law enforcement officials and other technology companies that have been targets of DDoS attacks in recent months to review best practices for responding. Law enforcement is working to determine the attack's origin. DDoS attacks are sent by people or botnets, which are Internet-connected programs that work on tasks. Move operates realtor.com®, the official website of the National Association of REALTORS®. The DDoS attack is driving massive amounts of traffic from external sources to Move's data center, making realtor.com®, Top Producer® services, and Move's other Internet services available intermittently. The attacks also have targeted and impacted the redundant aspects of the company's systems.
MORE >
Tips for Combating Mobile Malware
MORE >
Internet Explorer Vulnerability Affects ALL Versions
Internet Explorer is in the news again. But this time, it's for a huge security vulnerability. Oh I'm sorry, just one second, I'm getting some info from our control room...Oh. Apparently this is the status quo for Internet Explorer... Seriously though, this latest security flaw is kiiiiiiind of an enormous one, affecting every single version of Internet Explorer, which is about 26% of the entire browser market (in other words, basically 26% of Internet users). The vulnerability mostly targets Internet Explorer versions 9, 10, and 11. It's being referred to as a "use after free" attack. Basically, a malicious user or attacker could host a specially-made website which could look and "feel" like a legitimate or familiar site. When a user visits the website using Internet Explorer, the site exploits the vulnerability, thereby allowing the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the user's computer, which could cause any number of effects. What to do: Wait. Microsoft is currently investigating this major flaw and will most likely issue an out-of-cycle security update for the Internet Explorer browser on all Microsoft operating systems released AFTER Windows XP. You may remember that on April 8th, 2014, Microsoft officially discontinued support for Windows XP. Unfortunately, this means that Windows XP users will most likely NOT receive the security fix for this flaw.
MORE >
It’s Time to Take Your eSignature Tool Seriously–The Law Does
MORE >
How do laws protecting consumer privacy affect your business?
This post comes to us from the PCMS Consulting blog: Consumer privacy – a quick overview Many changes are coming down the road in 2014 regarding the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) that both you and your mortgage and/or title partners should be aware of. Do you know what CFPB is? If you don't, you can visit their website to educate yourself about these new consumer protections. In short, the CFPB is an agency, created by Congress, designed to protect consumers after the financial meltdown of a few years ago. It is deeply affecting the mortgage and title worlds and may end up impacting brokerages, as well. Whether or not you have a mortgage and/or title relationship, you should consider positioning yourself as the brokerage who protects consumer information.
MORE >
Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose an eSignature?
MORE >
5 Home Security Apps Your Clients Need
September is REALTOR® Safety Month, but agents and brokers aren't the only ones with concerns for their security. That's why we're sharing this post from HomeFinder.com--it's chock full of great security apps that you can share with clients to help keep their home and family safe! What if you could control your home's security, protect your loved ones and save money on energy bills from the convenience of your smartphone? Remotely monitor your family's safety while on the go, with the below five home security management apps. 1.) Pulse, by ADT (Free*, iOS, Android and Windows Phone): Pulse combines home security with home automation for fully customizable control when you are hundreds of miles away from home. Configure the touchscreen panel to fit your lifestyle and security needs; control and monitor thermostats; view live video of your home; arm/disarm your home's security system; dim or turns lights on or off; and lock or unlock doors. You can also receive custom email/text notifications when you child arrives home from school, when carbon monoxide levels change or a water sensor is activated. *ADT Pulse Interactive Solutions subscription is required 2.) Digital Life, by AT&T (Free*, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 8): Remotely lock or unlock doors, check security cameras, turn lights and appliances on or off, and adjust thermostat settings. Stay connected to your home by receiving text and email notifications when specific actions take place, such as when a window breaks or the housecleaners just unlocked the back door. A unique feature of this app is the ability to gather data from sensors, which then trigger appropriate actions. Example: If the garage door sensor is tripped, a program can be designed to turn on the garage door lights, record video and notify you of the happening via text message. *Active Digital Life home security account is required.  
MORE >
Are Your Listings Being Hijacked?
MORE >
Privacy and The Real Estate Process
"People who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their emails are processed by the recipient's [e-mail provider] in the course of delivery. Indeed, 'a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.' "- Google lawyers in a June 2013 court filing Privacy: "the right to be let alone" Louis Brandeis, citing Judge Thomas Cooley, described in an 1890 paper (cowritten with Samuel D. Warren). The real estate process includes numerous privacy oriented policies, from MLS and Association agreements to disclosure documents, franchise fees, rebates and agent compensation practices. Consider three examples that illuminate the growing concerns in and around personal and professional privacy. 1. MLS agreements that assert control and require brokers to cede ownership over broker created listing data. Certain multiple listing service agreements assert ownership over broker created listing data. This means the data brokers enter into an MLS system may be "owned" by the MLS. Conflicts have arisen when the MLS transmits broker created data (sometimes with and without compensation) to third parties that may offer conflicting services with the originating broker, such as national aggregators. What you can do: Brokers should be pro-active in formulating MLS terms and conditions that support their business model(s).
MORE >
Protect Your Online Identity For Eternity
MORE >
Don’t Become a WordPress Hack Victim
In recent weeks, there has been substantial buzz around the Web centered around a brute force attack on WordPress sites. These attacks are made by a network of more than 90,000 infected computers. They operate by logging in to the WordPress admin section with the generic login name "Admin", as that's how most WordPress sites are first set up. Those with weak passwords and an "Admin" username are getting hacked. This is just one method out of hundreds that hackers use to attack WordPress sites around the world. It's even possible to be a hack victim and not even know it, as your site can be used to infect other sites behind the scenes. Some hacking involves spamming activities which has caused sites to be banned by Google, creating an emergency situation and a lot of corrective action to get back into good graces. So, how do you know if your site has been hacked and how do you prevent it in the future? Wordfence is a very effective plugin, that is highly rated and easy to implement. Go to your WordPress plugins page, click on Add New and search for Wordfence. It will come up at the top of the search and is installed with one click. Other than inputting your email address to receive alerts, you really don't need to change the default settings, although you may want to go through and add a couple of check boxes should you wish to receive more alerts.
MORE >
Hackers Use Social Media to Avoid Detection
MORE >
Do Tech Companies Protect Your (And Your Clients') Privacy?
At one point or another, when meeting with a REALTOR® about marketing, the conversation about technology comes up. It comes up for two reasons. First off, technology and marketing go hand-in-hand in today's very technical marketplace. Secondly though, people always have feelings about what companies are great and what ones should be avoided. For instance, our cloud-based real estate CRM solution syncs your calendar, tasks and contacts. The two most common ways to do that are through Outlook (installed on your computer), or with Gmail (a cloud service that hosts your data for you). While many agents are more than happy to have Gmail take care of this for them, a good number of you express to me your concerns that "big brother" shouldn't have access to everything about you, your interactions with your clients, and your other personal data. So how do you know who is protecting you and who isn't? Luckily, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has your interests in mind, with their annual Who Has Your Back? Reporting. The idea behind this report is to give the companies incentive for transparency regarding how your data is disseminated to government agencies. It also is meant to encourage them to ratchet up protection for their users, ensuring that data is safe from potential privacy gaps. According to Gizmodo, the data on each company was based on six criteria: Require a warrant for content of communications Tell users about government data requests Publish transparency reports Publish law enforcement guidelines Fight for users' privacy rights in courts Fight for users' privacy in Congress
MORE >
Cybercrime: 65% of Internet Users are Victims [Infographic]
MORE >
Facebook Hoax
In the last few months, many Facebook users have come across a status update that poses to be a legally binding privacy notice. This blanket disclaimer basically claims copyright on all items posted to Facebook, including photos, status updates, user's stock-in-trade, and anything else posted to Facebook. Unfortunately, you should probably consult with a real lawyer because this is all a hoax. Here is what the status update looks like:
MORE >
Open House Safety: 10 Tips for a Safe Open House
MORE >
Are You a Mac? Are you Sick?
If you have a Mac, you may have bragged to your PC friends about having a computer that is impervious to viruses. That all changed recently. Geeks from shore to shore, continent to continent have been talking about the first real Mac virus. About 600,000 or so computers are thought to be infected with the Flashback virus. If you think that you have it, use this free tool from Finnish anti-virus company F-Secure. It's free. You can thank them by leaving a note on their Facebook or Twitter page. They deserve the kudos. Another detection tool you can use has been made available by Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky. Meanwhile, Apple has issued a statement indicating that it is continuing to work on an official detection and inoculation tool.
MORE >
WordPress security – Ignore at your peril
MORE >
REALTOR Safety Is Not Academic
With the position of vulnerability real estate professionals often experience, safety must be a daily consideration. It’s so important the National Association of REALTORS® has designated September as REALTOR® Safety Month, posting a wealth of resources on safety on Realtor.org. But even the best tools won’t help if your attitude is, “It can’t happen to me … I’ve never had a problem, why should I change the way I do business?” It doesn’t take a deep Google search to find a scary list of real estate pros who have been attacked or killed, and they aren’t all women. If you are a broker, please take a true leadership role with your agents and staff and set office policies to ensure their safety – and enforce them without fail. If you are an agent, ask your broker to be proactive with best practices for safety – and follow them yourself.
MORE >
Protect Yourself! Who is Grabbing Your Data?
MORE >
Beware: Scams and Fraud in the Real Estate World
It’s a sad fact of human nature that when people are facing tough times, there are those out there that will try to take advantage of them. Given the general sordid state of the real estate market in Phoenix, combined with a less-than-stellar economy, the pickings are ripe for the scammers and others who attempt to take advantage of people. Late last week, two separate stories were reported in the Phoenix mainstream media that highlight what can go wrong in a couple of real estate hot beds – renting a home, and seeking a mortgage loan modification.
MORE >
Have You Taken Professional Responsibility For Your Online Privacy?
MORE >