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Safe Selling: A Script (and a Trick) for Screening Prospects
We've talking a lot about red flags lately--specifically how to spot them in new prospects. This week, learn a quick trick that agents can use over the phone to uncover hints that a prospect might be dangerous. The trick is called 'The Training Play' and it can help agents gauge a prospect's hidden motives. Watch the video above to: Hear a sample script for using the Training Play on the phone Find out which vocal cues to be alert for How agents can decide if they should take another agent with them to a showing Next week: See why it's so important to learn about the neighborhood—and to share your findings in the Showing Notes.
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Safe Selling: Why Copying that Driver's License Won't Keep You Safe
The conventional safety procedures that brokers suggest to their agents when meeting new prospects for the first time go something like this: Always verify the prospect's identity and make a copy of their driver's license Always meet them at the office for the first time But do these steps actually protect your agents from a potential predator? In this week's 'Safe Selling' video, we'll learn why these long-held safety truths are actually safety myths. How meeting at the brokerage's office can actually play into a predator's hands Why it's important to meet at a public location first, NOT the listing Why copying a driver's license won't keep agents safe What agents can do if they don't have an available colleague to accompany them on a first showing with a new client One important caveat: We're not saying that agents shouldn't copy a new client's license or meet them at the office (as long as others are there). Instead, agents shouldn't let these actions lull them into a false sense of security—they alone won't deter a predator. Agents should stay vigilant and remember all of the preventative tips we've been sharing in this video series. Stay tuned until next week when reveal an easy phone trick that agents can use to screen prospects!
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Safe Selling: How to Spot Dangerous Red Flags Over the Phone
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Safe Selling: 5 Tips for Staying Safe on Social Media
We've already learned how an agent's profile photo, their language, and their marketing can either attract or repel predators. Today, we're going to find out how to patch a major safety flaw in many real estate agents' marketing: social media. Brokers can share this video with the agents in their office to help them understand what predators looks for when browsing social media profiles in the hunt for their next victim. Watch the video above to learn: How social media posts can add fuel to a predator's fantasy life The #1 rule for staying safe on social media Why you should use a different name and profile photo on your personal and professional accounts How to build a protective "wall" between your professional and personal sides How to prevent predators from cyberstalking you and discovering your personal profile and private family information Stay tuned for next week's episode to learn about red flags to look out for when communicating with a new prospect.
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Future of Online Identity Verification
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Safe Selling: Why Agents Should Avoid Getting Personal in Their Marketing
How can brokers help their agents stay safe? You probably already know all the physical basics, but did you know the way your agents present themselves online can actually deter--or attract--predators? We've already learned how an agent's profile photo and the language they use in their marketing can put off a potential attacker. In today's episode of "Safe Selling," we're deepening that knowledge by exploring what types of marketing information attracts dangerous people, and what repels them. Watch the video above to learn: The difference between personal and professional information Why agents should NEVER include personal information on their website or other marketing channels The personal details that can cause a predator to stalk an agent in person What topics your agents' marketing should focus on instead Tune in next week when we'll learn the ins and outs of social media safety!
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Who Is Covered by CCPA and What Does It Require?
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Safe Selling: How to Avoid Marketing Language That Attracts Predators
Do your brokerage's agents project power in their marketing? It can make the difference between turning off a predator and catching their eye. As we've learned previously, predators often choose their next victim on the internet. Last week, we talked about how agents can use their headshots to project strength and repel a potential attacker. But did you know something as subtle as the language used in agents' marketing can also influence a predator? Predators look for easy targets—those they deem weak or subservient. As with headshots, agents can subconsciously project strength or weakness via the language they use. What kind of language are your agents using? Watch this week's 'Safe Selling' video to learn: The word you should NEVER use in your real estate marketing The phrase you should use instead Why strong language will attract more business while deterring dangerous criminals Tune in next week when we'll dive deeper into how agents can market online while protecting themselves from criminals.
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Safe Selling: How Predators Use Agent Photos to Select Their Next Victim
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Safe Selling: Buyer or a Thief? How to Tell
Is the buyer your agent is showing a home to actually a thief? Do your brokerage's agents know how to tell? Last week, we showed you one common scam, "The Couple's Play," that pairs of thieves use to distract an agent. In this week's episode of "Safe Selling," we're showing other behaviors that agents should look for to identify a likely thief. Share the video above with your agents so they can learn: Why a prospect who 'dust checks' a window may actually be a thief The type of photo a prospect takes that fingers them as a likely thief Why single buyers are more likely to be burglars The type of photo a prospect takes that fingers them as a likely thief Questions to look out for that indicate your prospect may intend to burglarize the home later Tune in next week when we'll learn how an agent's headshot can either attract or drive away potential predators!
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Safe Selling: How to Recognize a Common Scam that Thieves Play
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Safe Selling: The Timeline of a Crime
It's Realtor Safety Month, but safety concerns aren't just for agents in the field. Brokers have an important part to play in not only creating a culture of safety, but in educating agents on how to stay safe. That's why we're running this video series on Realtor safety. Brokers should feel free to share these videos with their office, on their social media, in intra-office communications, and more. In today's episode, we look at the timeline of a crime—which, surprise, happens well before a predator meets an agent in person.  In the previous episode, we learned about the psychology of predators and the emotional cycle that drives them to commit a violent crime. Today, we're learning what that timeline looks like--from the initial selection to the research and fantasy stages all the way up to the attack. By understanding all the "pre-work" that occurs before a predator even contacts an agent, we can devise a plan to reduce the risk of an agent becoming a victim. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead as this "Safe Selling" series continues to find out more about protecting your agents!
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Preventing Real Estate Ransomware
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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.
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The Day I Learned of a Chilling Plot to Digitally Censor My Voice
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Fail First Approach to Cybersecurity Is Costly
Failing is a natural part of learning. When failure occurs, the opportunity to learn is critical in building knowledge. A fail first mentality towards the cybersecurity of systems and data, however, is not a learning experience. It is a disaster. We have three tips for starting a journey to learn techniques to prevent and recover from a ransomware attack.
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 4
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 3
So now you know the first two steps (see parts one and two) in dealing with an agitated person who visits your real estate office. You're aware of how to identify an angry person from a distance, and the non-verbal tricks that can help you de-escalate the situation. Now, let's talk about verbal strategy. What do you say to an upset individual to defray a tense situation? Watch this week's episode of "Real Answers" to find out. In the video above, you'll learn: Why validation is key to calming an agitated visitor Sample scripts for validating their feelings Why you need the person to be calm and rational, and how to get them there Next week, we'll explore the next steps in defusing the situation with your upset office visitor. Stay tuned!  
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors, Part 2
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Office Safety: Dealing with Angry Visitors
For weeks, we've been sharing strategies that agents can use when faced with an agitated squatter. But what happens when the agitated person is a member of the public--and they're in your office? In this week's episode of Real Answers, brokerages, MLSs and associations will learn what NOT to do when an upset individual enters their office and makes a scene or starts a confrontation. This episode is the first in a series of four that looks at how to handle this potentially dangerous scenario. Tune in next week to learn what TO DO when confronted by an angry person in your office!    
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Friday Freebie: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need on Agent Safety
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 3
In the past two installments of "A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity" (here and here), we looked at some quick and easy strategies to lock your virtual doors against intruders. Now let's open that dreaded IT closet. It's that room in the office where you have those loud computers and all those wires. Go ahead and step in. There are two devices in here that I want to talk to you about: your server(s) and your firewall.
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When Hackers Attack: The Broker's Guide to DDoS
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GDPR and Its Effect on the US Real Estate Industry
How is the General Data Protection Regulation, passed in the EU, affecting us in real estate here in the US? Get a closer look at the measures abroad and in the states to protect users' privacy. Scott Petronis, Chief Product and Technology Officer at eXp Realty, moderated a discussion — "GDPR and Its Effect in the US" — with Scott Lockhart, CEO at Showcase IDX, and Marinda Neumann, Managing Attorney at Lotus Law Center, APC at Inman Connect's Hacker Connect in New York 2019. To see the full discussion, watch the video below: TL;DR GDPR applies to any agent, broker or real estate marketing pro that works with European citizens. The upcoming California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) will be closer to home and affect agents and brokers more directly. While there is a "stick" in the law, there is a huge opportunity for Realtors and brokers that successfully meet consumers' needs and desire for privacy. Listen to the discussion for more details. Speaker Bios Scott Lockhart: A serial entrepreneur known for building innovative companies and considered one of the top real estate privacy experts in the world. Previous CTO of RE/MAX Greater Atlanta, with over $4.5B in yearly sales. He has consulted with national brands in the retail, real estate and mortgage industries, including Lowe's Home Improvement, Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wachovia Bank and some of the top 20 residential real estate brokerages. Marinda Neumann: Marinda is the managing attorney at Lotus Law Center, APC. Her firm represents multiple listing services and associations providing transactional and policy counsel. The firm also provides legal services to real estate professionals, vendors, and service providers, individuals, and businesses with a focus in contract, business law, data privacy and security, technology and data licensing, copyright, and trademark. Prior to becoming an attorney Marinda served in the U.S. Navy as a Cryptologic Technician, she worked within the Department of Defense (DOD) for over ten years and possesses an extensive background in software and computer technology, with an emphasis on data security. Scott Petronis: As eXp Realty's Chief Product and Technology Officer, Scott leads the delivery of strategic agent-centric solutions that power the company's business and rapidly growing agent base. Scott has more than 20 years of experience in delivering software and SaaS products for businesses and consumers. For more than six years, Scott has been a fixture in industry technology initiatives through his work with the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO), including leading the Web API initiative as the Chair of the Transport Workgroup. In that role, he drove agreement on a new standard that allows companies to more rapidly innovate solutions for the real estate industry. Click here to read a transcript of the talk.
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eXp Realty Launches Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook
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This Website Is Not Secure!
Over the last few weeks, we have been researching web traffic for 177 of the most productive brokerages in sales volume and sides. While we are still diving deep into the study, there was one stat that gave me grave concern--the number of broker websites that are not secure for a customer to login or to complete a form. Securing information between a person who completes a registration or property inquiry form and then sends it to a website's server is achieved when you see the HTTPS before the web address. Example: https://www.WAVGroup.com – Communication between person browsing and the website server is secure http://www.WAVGroup.com – Communication between person browsing and the website server is NOT secure. Today, we do not even consider launching a website—with or without forms—without applying HTTPS website security. For years, Google has been pushing webmasters to apply HTTPS to secure websites. While this method has been a longtime practice, most companies were not adhering to it if their site did not have an e-commerce payment feature. That is, until Google started to highlight non-secure websites as "Not Secure" in Chrome back in July of 2018. Nowadays, the majority of web browsers display non-secure websites to people. During our research, we exposed that almost 25 percent of the 177 websites in the study were non-secured websites. These are websites from brokerages who are productivity leaders in sales volume, or sides, or both. Websites that included features like subscribing to a newsletter, submitting a property inquiry with a showing request, or a site registration and login form. Scary! Non-secure websites are open A simple scenario of creating a new username and password on a non-secure website makes it easy for others to see it. When the submit button is pushed, the browser sends the information to the website's hosting server in a form that is as readable as this article. There are plenty of tools to capture the communication into a file and query it to find the information. Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots like in airports, restaurants, and public places make it easier for the bad guys to capture non-secured communication with these tools. Open hot spots make it imperative to secure websites to protect the consumer's privacy and security, leverage search engine optimization, and preserve the company's brand image. Consumers Privacy and Security The EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), and the discussions in the U.S. Congress on new federal regulation policy state that any compromise of a person's personal or private information must be disclosed. It will be difficult to remediate any violations of these laws when a company maintains non-secured websites. An item to note: While CCPA's accountability to the law is limited to only big companies, the U.S. House and Senate hearing was inclusive for every company and preemptive to state law. The federal government is reviewing how to align data security with a privacy policy. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Search engines have been saying since 2014 that one signal they use for ranking websites is if they are using HTTPS. Google previously stated usage of HTTPS as a ranking signal is part of their algorithm. For these reasons, over the past few months, we've been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. Should we be concerned about this since Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia are winning this war? I absolutely think it makes a difference for longtail searches. These sometimes include typing in a property address or performing a search for "home for sale in X neighborhood for $250k." Company's brand image This one upsets me. Brand is extremely important to a company, and having a web browser say "Not Secure" is making a negative brand impression on the consumer. Let's take a look. Chrome: Here is an example when accessing a non-secure website in Chrome. When the consumer clicks on the information circle next to Not Secure, the following message is delivered. Brand message: We want your business, but we don't care enough to protect you from the bad guys! The next example shows how a secured website is treated by Chrome. The consumer is presented with a lock icon next to the URL address. All is okay with this company! Firefox: When accessing a non-secure website, Firefox only displays the information circle. But, look at what is displayed when the consumer clicks on the site. I like how Firefox displays a secured website. They present a bold green lock next to the web address. This aligns and signals the dedication of a brand that is concerned about my security and privacy. Safari: Apple's treatment of a secured website only displays a little lock next to the web address. It is okay, but nothing really bold. Apple's lack of treat treatment on non-secure websites is a little disheartening. As a consumer, you only know when the website is secured. I guess Apple thinks people are more aware of their browsing habits. Brave Browser: If you like a browser to test for SEO and easily select ad and tracking blockers, try Brave Browser. It has become a go-to for surfing the web. Brave treats non-secured websites similar to Firefox. A big red "Not Secure." Click on the Not Secure and the message is loud and clear: Summary All your website assets need to be set up with HTTPS. The cost to implement is minimal compared with not having the proper security in place to protect people, losing out on longtail SEO, and jeopardizing the company's brand with consumers. It all matters in today's business world. There really isn't any excuse for having a non-secure website. If your team is too busy, call us. We'll handle this for you and make the necessary phones calls to get the job done. One more item to check off your "to-do" list. To view the original article, visit the WAV Group blog.
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Privacy Regulation for Everyone Coming Soon
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Google Flags Websites that Are Not HTTPS as Not Secure
It's for your clients. It's for your security. It's for Google. Our team heard "rumblings" as early as two years ago from Google strongly "advocating" website owners move to HTTPS encryption to make the Internet secure and protect the privacy of your users. If you have not yet acquired an SSL certificate, you may have already noticed Google has flagged your website as "Not Secure" in Chrome.
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4 Key Questions to Ask about Cloud Data Security
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Data Privacy: Everyday Best Practices to Remember
Today, the world recognizes Data Privacy Day. As privacy protection concerns and privacy laws around the world, such as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California's incoming digital privacy law (the California Consumer Privacy Act), continue to build, we are reminded to be more mindful of data privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust. Let us mark this day by increasing our awareness of data privacy and considering key data privacy practices in our everyday work. Here are some best practices around maintaining privacy and enabling trust to keep in mind and share with your colleagues.
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How the FBI Foiled a Wire Transfer Scam
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How to Connect to a Computer Remotely
If you ever find yourself needing to access a computer remotely--either attempting to connect to a desktop computer at work or need to assist someone with their computer from afar--this primer is for you. Whether you have a Microsoft Windows PC or an Apple Mac, let's take a look at the basics you'll need to know.
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Safe Selling: Understanding How a Predator Thinks
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Safe Selling: Predators vs. Thieves
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! September is Realtor Safety Month, and we're kicking things off with a multi-part video series on safe selling. In this first video, you'll learn about the difference between the two different types of criminals you're most likely to encounter--predators and thieves. Why is this important to learn? Well, according to video host Lee Goldstein of Real Safe Agent, "The more you understand about the type of criminals you could potentially run into, especially predators, then the more you understand how to prevent yourself from being targeted in the first place." This knowledge can also empower you to discourage interest if you are targeted, and "turn off" the predatory instinct of criminals. In this week's video, you'll learn the differences between predators and thieves in regards to: The types of crimes each commits Motive Their decision making process Attractors Their preferred environment for committing a crime Watch the video above to learn more about each criminal type and how to protect yourself from them. Then, tune in next week for our next installment of Safe Selling!
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour, Part 2
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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.
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Showing Safety: Where to Stand During a Home Tour
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Phishing in Real Estate and Recruiting Experience
Phishing in Real Estate A key practice to protect yourself and your customers from scammers and hackers is education. When I was asked by Janet Sowers of the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee (RASM) to present at a session on "Beware of the Phish! Wire Fraud in Real Estate Transactions," there was only one response. Phishing? Absolutely, YES!
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Realtor Safety: Preparing a Home for a Showing
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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!    
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Who's Attacking Real Estate Agents?
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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!
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Three Stories for You to Read: Amazon, Cybersecurity, App Dev
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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.
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A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 2
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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.
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A Brokers Guide to Cybersecurity
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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.
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10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
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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.
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All Computers and Servers at Risk from Spectre and Meltdown
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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.
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Why You Should Use HTTPS for a Safe and Secure Site
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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.
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Stay Safe When You Use Drone Photography and Honor Others' Privacy
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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?"
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Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 2)
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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!)
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Zillow Protects Broker Data
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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.
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The IRS Warns Against These Tax Scams
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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!
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[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
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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.
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Cyber Security: How Brokerages Can Protect Themselves
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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?
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Sex Offender Poses as a Fake Buyer in This Bizarre Home Showing
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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.
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9 Ways to Keep Data Secure
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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."
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4 Cyber Scams Targeting Brokerages
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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.
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A Tech's Tale of a Real Life Schemer: The Fake Microsoft Scam Running Amok on Us All
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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.
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Online, Safety Is Your 'Social Responsibility'
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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
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Turn Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad into a Security Camera with the "Presence" App
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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.
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8 Safety Tips and Tools for Avoiding Tragedy
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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?
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Data Backup Options
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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.
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Data Security for Real Estate
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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.
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Tips for Combating Mobile Malware
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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.
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It’s Time to Take Your eSignature Tool Seriously–The Law Does
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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.
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Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose an eSignature?
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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.  
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Are Your Listings Being Hijacked?
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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).
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Protect Your Online Identity For Eternity
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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.
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Hackers Use Social Media to Avoid Detection
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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
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Cybercrime: 65% of Internet Users are Victims [Infographic]
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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:
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Open House Safety: 10 Tips for a Safe Open House
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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.
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