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

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default
Friday Freebie: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need on Agent Safety
Your brokerage 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
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.
MORE >
When Hackers Attack: The Broker's Guide to DDoS
MORE >
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.
MORE >
eXp Realty Launches Safety Check for Workplace by Facebook
MORE >
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.
MORE >
Privacy Regulation for Everyone Coming Soon
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 >
Three Stories for You to Read: Amazon, Cybersecurity, App Dev
In the event of Inman Connect this week, these were three stories I found which piqued my interest this last week. Will Amazon Uber-ize the Real Estate Industry? Cisco and Juniper Networks stocks slipped last Friday on news from The Information that Amazon was entering the $14 billion data center equipment business. While searching for more news, I stumbled upon investment firm TwinRock Partners' article about Amazon and real estate.
MORE >
Essential Tips for Protecting Client Data
MORE >
A Broker's Guide to Cybersecurity: Part 2
For part one of this series, click here. Now that we've acknowledged that yes, your brokerage is a potential target for hackers, let's start with setting some ground rules for cybersecurity. While these rules aren't very sexy, they are absolutely essential to protecting your brokerage. Establish an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) First, each employee and agent using your network should be subject to signing an acceptable use policy (AUP).
MORE >
GDPR Playing Havoc in the EU
MORE >
A Brokers Guide to Cybersecurity
As a real estate broker, you want to provide your customers, staff, and agents with access to the Internet and information in a way that is easy, quick, and timely. However, with that service comes the responsibility of making sure it is secure. Not many months go by where we don't hear about a cybersecurity breach (e.g., Home Depot, Target, Equifax, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.). While these breaches cost companies millions of dollars, the loss of customer confidence is more expensive still. Your brokerage is a target, no matter the size.
MORE >
How Europe's New Personal Data Rule Impacts Real Estate
MORE >
10 Questions to Ask Your Tech Vendor About Your Data
You've most likely heard about the recent news in the industry calling to question the safety of your personal contacts, sphere, leads or other data that belongs to your real estate business. The security and integrity of your personal sphere and its corresponding data in many ways is the core of your business and repeat business. Many tech platforms expect you to freely hand over your private sphere data in order to use their solutions. And there lies the question: How safe is your data when you hand it over?
MORE >
WAV Group Systems Audits and Integration
MORE >
All Computers and Servers at Risk from Spectre and Meltdown
Every computer device – server, laptop, desktop, every router, every wireless router, every network printer, every network fax machine, and every phone is impacted. Don't freak out. Being impacted and being attacked are two different things. We are going to explain what is happening in layman's terms and help you get through it. Right before Christmas, researchers discovered that there is a security vulnerability (like an open door) that exposes computers built after 1995 to risk. Google found it (nod in reverence to Jann Horn of Google who was a key researcher who found both vulnerabilities – Meltdown and Spectre. If you want to geek out, visit this website). Basically, all of your usernames and passwords go through your chipset without encryption. This means that the door is open, not that you are infected with a virus. If you want to super geek out, look at Jann Horn's blog. Here is the layman's understanding of the issue. Unless you live under a rock, you have heard about Intel processors. Intel is a brand, and all brands of processors are open to attack. Processors are the electronic pieces of hardware that do all of the work on all computer devices. This is not a vulnerability that is limited to Intel processors, however. It impacts all multi-core processors. If you know what a kernel is, that is what is open to attack. Basically, every chipset in every electronic device after 1995 is at risk. Again, it is not a virus, it's a flaw and there is a risk that the hardware can be attacked. Everyone, everywhere is at risk and it will impact every device you use and every cloud service you use. Your anti-virus software will not prevent this attack – in fact, it may block the software patch from being installed properly. Read what your anti-virus vendor tells you.
MORE >
Can Blockchain Restore Trust in Real Estate Transactions?
MORE >
Why You Should Use HTTPS for a Safe and Secure Site
Do you have HTTPS or SSL enabled on your real estate website? By implementing HTTPS, you can further protect the integrity of your site, as well as data you are collecting. With HTTPS enabled, you will gain an immeasurable advantage over your competitors by instilling trust in potential leads. First things first: What is SSL? SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) creates an encrypted connection between your web server and your visitors' web browser. This allows for sensitive information (such as passwords or email addresses) to be transmitted without being hacked, tampered with or intercepted. If someone were to capture the data being transferred via HTTPS, it would be unrecognizable. Why do you need it? Perhaps most importantly, Google Chrome displays a 'Not secure' warning for all HTTP pages. By enabling SSL, you'll proactively prevent pop-up warnings and increase the amount of time users spend on your site, resulting in more lead capture opportunities. Not to mention, since security is a top priority for Google, HTTPS enabled sites are automatically given a minor ranking boost! Why should you want it? Google isn't the only one who cares about your website's security; so do prospective clients! According to the National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, home seekers rated honesty and trustworthiness as the most important factors when choosing an agent. Well, since 44 percent of home searches start online, this sense of security begins with your real estate website. To sum up, the benefits of HTTPS/SSL compatibility include: Gaining an unparalleled advantage over competing real estate websites by providing visitors with peace of mind. Ensuring you remain at the leading edge of SEO functionality and Google's Chrome browser updates with SSL functionality. Keeping visitors coming to your real estate site is important, and they are more likely to leave if they encounter any roadblocks or feel their security is at risk. Enabling HTTPS or SSL ensures your leads feel safe and secure, while enhancing the credibility of your real estate site. Your visitors will love knowing you take their security seriously! To view the original article, visit the IDX Broker blog.
MORE >
Can You Get Protection Against Cyber Fraud?
MORE >
Stay Safe When You Use Drone Photography and Honor Others' Privacy
As drones become ever more popular in the business and home entertainment sectors, privacy concerns abound – and incensed Americans are taking offensive action. With some states allowing private citizens to shoot at drones, safety and the protection of privacy and property are becoming an increasingly important facet with drone video usage in real estate marketing. How can you protect yourself?
MORE >
Phishing: Preventing the Bait and Hook in the Pond of Security for Brokers
MORE >
Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 2)
Yesterday, we took a look at the first of two intranet solutions for brokerages. Today, we're highlighting WOLFconnect, an intranet and "front office" platform from our 2017-18 Technology Guide. What is WOLFconnect? WOLFconnect is part of Lone Wolf's Complete Enterprise Solution, a full service brokerage platform that includes back office, accounting, website management, transaction management, and more. While WOLFconnect can stand alone, it is arguably more powerful when connected to the rest of the suite. WOLFconnect itself is a modular solution that offers five different modules that brokerages can purchase as suits their needs:
MORE >
Which Brokerage Intranet Solution is Right for You? (Part 1)
MORE >
Zillow Protects Broker Data
WAV Group supports brokers and MLSs in constructing data licensing agreements with users of data records that belong to the broker. When a company like Zillow ingests broker data, like all recipients, they must adhere to the data license agreement, which typically requires that you cannot allow the data to be used by a third party. The blog McMansionHell.com is learning the hard way that using data from Zillow without proper authority is a copyright violation that Zillow will pursue. Not only will Zillow pursue the violation, but they are contractually bound to pursue the violation. The media around the case is a bit confused, so let me try to break it down in layman's terms.
MORE >
Home Office Security: What Every Business Owner Should Know
MORE >
The IRS Warns Against These Tax Scams
It's tax season and that means tracking down all your forms, maximizing your write-offs with things like the mileage deduction and potentially getting a refund. The scammers are also out in force this time of year. Here are some common tax scams the IRS has rounded up and some tips on how to avoid them. Phone Call Scams There are thousands of scammers who try to trick people over the phone every year. This often involves somebody claiming you owe taxes or penalties and if you don't pay quickly, you'll be faced with punitive measures—including jail. What's insidious about this is that the scammers can have legitimate information about you including your name, address or Social Security number. The IRS will never: Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the chance to question or appeal the amount they say you owe Require a certain payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official IRS notice Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement to have you arrested for not paying.
MORE >
REALTOR® Safety Webinar: Get Smart about Smart Homes and Your Safety (9/14)
MORE >
[Video] It's Your Business, It's Your Data!
Do you know how, where, and when your transaction data is being used? Brokers are overwhelmingly turning to cloud solutions to manage and complete transactions, and the handling of that transaction data is a top concern. As the facilitators of the real estate transaction, brokers are responsible for the care of sensitive client information. Are your technology vendors transparent about how and where they store your business data once it has been entered into their system? If you're not sure, watch the video below. It's a recording of a live webinar we hosted earlier today on how to evaluate technology vendors for data security. We were joined by special guests Glenn Shimkus and Georg Gerstenfeld of DocuSign, a global leader in the push for standards in digital transaction management. Brokers from across the nation tuned in to the webinar to learn key considerations and questions to ask technology providers. If you were unable to join us, don't worry. You can watch the full recording below:
MORE >
Groundbreaking Agent Safety Class and Study Announced
MORE >
Cyber Security: How Brokerages Can Protect Themselves
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and today we're looking at how brokers can better protect sensitive client data. Digital security is increasingly complex goal to achieve. Every advance in technology brings new risks alongside the benefits. Wi-Fi untethered us from our desks and ethernet cables, but also made our devices vulnerable. The Internet opened up a new world of marketing, including on social media, but gave criminals an easy way to target their next victim. And let's not forget the rapidly evolving "Internet of Things" where wearable devices, appliances, cars, smart home technology and more are able to connect and "talk" to each other. No wonder cyber security is so complicated! That said, there are steps brokers can take to ensure their firm is as safe as possible. Obviously, this includes things like securely storing digital documents and carefully evaluating software and other tech tools that handle client data (see more tips here). However, much of the security burden falls on agents' shoulders and the measures they take when they're away from the confines of your secure office. Below is a list of digital security tips you can share with your agents and staff to keep them (and their devices) as safe as possible: 1. Know how to identify a tampered document - While many brokers provide their agents with e-signature and transaction management solutions, some do not. Unfortunately those agents who "go it alone" don't always choose secure solutions that protect documents from tampering. That can jeopardize the legality of an entire transaction! To learn how to protect yourself, your client, and the sale, see Can You Trust That eSignature? How to Spot a Tampered Document.
MORE >
10 Mobile Security Questions Brokers Should Be Asking
MORE >
Sex Offender Poses as a Fake Buyer in This Bizarre Home Showing
Are you sure that your prospective buyers are on a legitimate search for homes? A North Texas Realtor recently had a frightening encounter with a would-be buyer that serves as a reminder to exercise caution during any in-person home showings. Last August, Colleyville Realtor Ty Williams received a call from Tommie Marvin Hawkins Jr., who claimed to be in the market for a home in the $2 million range. Hawkins asked Williams to meet him near the condo where he was purportedly staying and also insisted on driving, so the two departed in his car. At first, Williams did not sense any problems. He said that Hawkins "asked all the right questions" and seemed to be on the up-and-up. However, as the two viewed the final house, Hawkins asked Williams, "Which of these homes would you leave your wife for me for?" While the two laughed it off, Williams says he began to feel uncomfortable but ultimately wrote it off as a bit of eccentricity. The situation became even more disturbing on the second day of viewings when Hawkins parked his car and began a rambling monologue during which he made sexual overtures to Williams.  
MORE >
Data Security is the Law
MORE >
9 Ways to Keep Data Secure
Cybercrimes happen every day and they can devastate people's lives and livelihoods. With all the personal information real estate companies collect, a breach in security could cost a brokerage business and tarnish its reputation. "Having the right tools to protect yourself and your clients is crucial in this war against hackers," says Denise Mainquist, founder of the information technology company ITPAC Consulting in Lincoln, Neb. One of the first things brokers need to know, she says, is that hackers aren't random; they relentlessly search the online world to find their next victim. They look for the most vulnerable systems, and then they attack with phishing, malware, ransomware, and other scams. "A real estate agency is a perfect example of an environment that is susceptible to hackers ... especially the high-end residential sales firms," says Brad Deflin, founder of Total Digital Security in Palm Beach, Fla. Sometimes personal information related to transactions is sent or viewed on sales agents' personal (nonbrokerage) smartphones and computers. The information can be anything from banking and tax information to legal documents, itineraries, and leases. Deflin says it's difficult to fully eliminate all risk of a cyber attack. However, it's possible to substantially reduce your risks without too much expense or change in user behavior. Here are some ideas for what brokers can do now to protect themselves and their agents from being hacked.
MORE >
Groundbreaking Real Estate Agent Safety Study Announced
MORE >
4 Cyber Scams Targeting Brokerages
You never know who is peeking into your files these days. Cybercrime has become a huge threat, with a growing number of scams affecting real estate agencies virtually every day. "There's a new level of sophistication going on out there in cyber threats," says Jessica Edgerton, associate counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®. "There is a lot of money changing hands in real estate, and that's why it's worth it to these folks to come after real estate professionals." A 2014 Forrester Research study shows that people who purchased a home within the past 12 months are 2.8 times more likely to be a victim of identity theft. In fact, in December 2012, two people were imprisoned for running a massive identity theft ring in San Diego, and police believe most of the information they used came from real estate files. As time goes on, scams continue to become more sophisticated. But which ones are the biggest threats real estate agencies, and what should you do if you are hacked? 1. Wire Fraudsters: The Georgia Association of REALTORS® warned its members early last year not to e-mail money wiring instruction to clients. Hackers had been mimicking their e-mails and sending similar ones to clients with the intention of diverting funds to fraudulent accounts. Ned Blumenthal with Weissman, Nowack, Curry & Wilco, a law firm in Atlanta, has dealt with at least three dozen wiring scams committed against real estate agents and their clients in the past year. One particular case involved a couple that fell victim to the wire fraud when selling their home.
MORE >
Stay Ahead of Hackers
MORE >
A Tech's Tale of a Real Life Schemer: The Fake Microsoft Scam Running Amok on Us All
ROFL, that was fun. A scammer called me. I scrambled to open my Windows 10 VMware to let him do his thing. First he told me he was from Microsoft and that my computer was reporting to MS that I had errors. I said Oh, no! What can we do!? He said he could show me and then help me fix it. First, to prove he knew it was my computer, he had me open a command window and list file associations and claimed the following was a unique identifier for my computer: zfsendtotarget=clsid 888dca60-fc0a-11cf-8f0f-00c04fd7d062 (More info on that here. It's just the entry for right click send to zip file.) Then he had me open MSInfo. Look at all the errors! He claimed those were the messages Microsoft was getting. Oh, no, what do we do?!
MORE >
2015 Data Storage: Your Security Role
MORE >
Online, Safety Is Your 'Social Responsibility'
Guest contributor John Graden of REALTOR®Mag says: Social media has changed the landscape for everyone. For you, it's made it easier to target clients. And for criminals, it's made it easier to target you. Any bad guy you would potentially deal with before, during, and after a showing is playing a role. He's pretending to be someone you, the victim, can trust. From the time he first contacts you, he will stay in character until he either executes his plan or bails out. Pulling off that charade is a whole lot easier with free and easy tools online that he can use to create an identity and follow your trail. On Facebook and other social media platforms, a criminal may be able to find out what college you attended, what sports teams you like, how many kids you have, and where you like to vacation. He can even see highly detailed images of where you work, live, and the place where he is going to meet you for a showing. A criminal's ability to "pull off his role" is magnified because it's much easier to create rapport with target audiences online than ever before. As convenient as the cyber world has made doing business for the good guys, it's made it a whole lot easier for bad guys, too. Remember that online communities are comprised of three groups of users: the safest third, the not-so-safe middle third, and the highly dangerous bottom third. When it comes to the highly dangerous bottom third, some are transparent in their aggressive hostility and easy to see and avoid. However, it's the more cunning psychopath that is more difficult to recognize because he is an expert at playing the good guy and gaining favor.
MORE >
Your Guide to Warding Off Cybercriminals: 7 Top Tips To Keep Your Data Safe Right Now
MORE >
Turn Your iPod, iPhone, or iPad into a Security Camera with the "Presence" App
The application "Presence" turns iOS devices into a video surveillance system with smart home energy control and more. See what's happening in your home or listed property live from anywhere when you're gone. If motion is detected, you will know within seconds. iPad2, iPhone 3GS, and 4th Generation iPod or newer are required. The app is currently ONLY available on iOS. Free Version The Presence App offers: FREE App download 50MB cloud storage Basic functionality (average day of basic monitoring is about 4MB) Paid Version The Presence PRO App offers: 2GB cloud storage Faster camera resets Customizable notifications (COST: $4.99/mo or $49.99/year)
MORE >
5 Tips to Protect Your Smartphone From Hackers
MORE >
8 Safety Tips and Tools for Avoiding Tragedy
This year's REALTOR® Safety Month ended on a tragic note. Authorities announced early Tuesday morning that the body of missing real estate agent Beverly Carter was found nearly 30 miles from the bank-owned home she was showing when she disappeared. Rather than recount the somber details here, we simply want to remind Realtors of the safety precautions they can take to help keep them safe. Brokers can be particularly helpful by requiring that their agents meet unknown buyers at the brokerage's office first--and then enforcing that policy. We've gathered a list of safety resources here for your convenience. Brokers, please share this information with your agents. Open House Safety - The high traffic of open houses can be a challenge. These 10 tips help ensure the safety of sellers, their property, and your agents. Keeping Listings Safe - How can you better ensure the safety of your sellers' homes? These eight tips will show you how. Safety During Showings and Meeting New Prospects - Entering vacant houses and meeting unknown people can make agents vulnerable targets. Incorporate these common sense ideas into your work routine to protect yourself. Beyond the safety precautions mentioned above, there are also tech tools that your agents can use to help protect themselves. Here are some of the best: AgentsArmor - This mobile app was created specifically for real estate agents. Users can set check-in times at select intervals. If the agent fails to check-in at the pre-specified time, authorities will be notified. The app will then use your phone's GPS to activate the "Agent Locator" feature. Brokerages and Associations who would like to provide the app to all of their agents should visit the app's Brokerage page.
MORE >
Who Owns Your Consumer After the Close?
MORE >
Data Backup Options
So, you've probably got all your files – documents, music, videos, photos, EVERYTHING – on your computer. It's probably all nice, neat, and organized just how you like it. And you probably have it all backed up on an external hard drive or cloud storage, right? Right?? If the answer is "yes," you can stop reading this now. If you're one of the majority of people who would answer "no," this is the article for you. Although we've written about the importance of data backup a few times in the past, the occasional refresher can save at least a few new people from hard drive disaster. Problem: You have a LOT of important (and probably irreplaceable) files in ONE place – your computer. Solutions: Hard Drive Backup – This involves purchasing an external hard drive and running backup software. The cost? About $100. We recommend Seagate and Western Digital drives, preferably with a capacity of 1TB (one terabyte) or larger. Cloud Storage Backup – This involves signing up for a free or paid online storage plan. Free plans usually don't include much storage, but paid plans can be very cost effective (and ABSOLUTELY worth it to keep your data safe from disaster). We recommend MCW Backup (of course) or a similar service such as CrashPlan. Features will vary from service to service, but the important thing is to get your data backed up!
MORE >
Public Wi-Fi Tips
MORE >
Data Security for Real Estate
It is one of the harsh realities of conducting business in 2014: data breaches or data loss are an increasingly common threat that are only becoming more expensive to recover from. Bad guys have an arsenal of sophisticated tools at their disposal that they can use to steal, hack, deface or otherwise ruin your business. IBM estimates that in 2014, the average cost of a business data breach is $3.5 million US – a 15% increase over the 2013 cost. An industry like real estate is an especially juicy target since real estate professionals often have access to sensitive client information including banking, legal and personal contact information. If this information is unlawfully accessed it allows crooks to do things like steal identities, empty bank accounts and take over your computer. So what is a savvy real estate professional like you to do to counter this very real threat? Two things: Learn how protect your data Implement "defensive layers" around your data 1) Learn to protect yourself Knowledge is power and, when it comes to data security, this holds especially true. If you do not understand what you are dealing with, it will be hard to follow through in the next steps. A great first step is to see what manner of educational resources are offered to you through your broker or your board/MLS/association. Most will either offer courses or have experts on hand who can help you understand what the prevailing threats are.
MORE >
Realtor.com and Top Producer Back Online After Two Day Internet Battle
MORE >
Tips for Combating Mobile Malware
There has been a rise in mobile malware recently, especially in the Android community. Here are some tips and recommendations for protecting yourself from becoming a victim of malware on your mobile device. Anti-Malware Apps Anti-malware applications can help protect you from mobile malware. However, Windows RT (used on Windows Phone and Windows Surface) and iOS do not have third-party support for anti-malware software. Microsoft does have its Windows Defender software as part of the Windows RT operating system. But with Apple's iOS, there is nothing available due to Apple's strict App Store submission policies. Microsoft is the same way with apps submitted to their app store, but the added support of Windows Defender offers at least some protection. On the Android side, Google's Play store policies are quite relaxed. As long as an app creator pays the one-time fee to submit an app, he or she can put as many apps in the store as they want. As of recent, Google does automatically check for any kind of malicious code, but will occasionally miss a few. For Android users, we recommend a good anti-malware app such as Lookout Security and Antivirus, Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus, or AVG AntiVirus Security.
MORE >
Internet Explorer Vulnerability Affects ALL Versions
MORE >
It’s Time to Take Your eSignature Tool Seriously–The Law Does
We're continuing a holiday tradition of sharing our most popular articles of the year. This article was originally published to our Agent channel back in July: Did you know that June 30 was National ESIGN Day? Bet you didn't know it, but you should, and here's why. First, a quick history... In 1998 the US Congress amended the Bank Protection Act of 1968 to include digital/electronic signature and authentication, the act was known as "Digital Signature and Authentication Law (SEAL) of 1998" permitting, and helping define, the use of electronic signatures in all aspects of business. In 2000, Congress enacted the "Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN)" into law. This was a turning point for the acceptance of the digital signature and authentication standard. How many REALTOR® members or even real estate professionals are aware of the authentication standards that were set? To boil it down, you need three primary points to prove a valid electronic signature: Legally valid - This is established by consenting to sign digitally and reviewing a consent statement including information on how to obtain paper copies, how to withdraw consent, and who is requesting the signature. Auditable - There must be an audit trail, including the email address, IP address and potentially even the geographical location of the individual at the time of signing. The time stamp is also necessary. The audit trail becomes part of the verification and certification of the digital signature. Tamper Evident - The digital signature must also be able to reveal if the document has been tampered with.
MORE >
How do laws protecting consumer privacy affect your business?
MORE >
Ask the Expert: How Do I Choose an eSignature?
Today's "Ask the Expert" column features Tom Gonser, the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of DocuSign. Q: As the importance of eSignatures continues to grow, what must real estate professionals keep in mind when choosing a product? A: As DocuSign's founder, I'm familiar with eSignature legal frameworks, especially in real estate as a primary market for us. In the past four years, we've seen big changes in the use of tech with eSignature as the preferred way REALTORS® close transactions. In fact, NAR reported that more than 50 percent of all REALTORS® have used eSignature in the past year. eSignature eliminates printing, faxing, scanning and overnighting to create an easier, faster, more convenient and secure transaction. However, if not careful, agents can put their clients and transactions at risk with the wrong eSignature tool. As a third party with a significant stake in the integrity of real estate contracts, banks must ensure the validity of contracts funded by their loans. Banks across the country, including Bank of America, have supplied detailed requirements for eSigned documents. While some eSignature solutions meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. ESIGN Act, many don't create reliable contracts. Some aren't even compliant with the ESIGN Act.
MORE >
5 Home Security Apps Your Clients Need
MORE >
Are Your Listings Being Hijacked?
Real estate professionals are constantly running into situations where their listings are being hijacked and published on sites like Craigslist as part of rental scams. The National Association of REALTORS® has a Risk Management Committee that published a guide to monitoring your listings online so you can be alerted to any unauthorized use of your listing. NAR suggests three methods for monitoring your listings: Google Alerts IfThisThenThat (IFTTT) Google Images With Google Alerts, you simply enter the address of your property listing. Be sure to include site 'craigslist.org' in the query with your property address. Set the Result Type to Everything, set How Often to Daily, and set How Many to Everything. This is also a handy way to send a report to your seller. IfThisThenThat is another service for monitoring your listing online. You can create a free account and set up an alert that they call a Recipe. Select Craigslist as a trigger channel. To build the recipe, do a search on Craigslist and copy the URL of the search and paste it into IfThisThenThat. The last step is to create an email alert.
MORE >
Privacy and The Real Estate Process
MORE >
Protect Your Online Identity For Eternity
Now, you really can live forever, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Many of your online accounts – from automatic bill payments to eBay – may remain active after you pass away, unless you take steps to ensure they don't, says attorney Hillel Presser, author of Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition). Automatic bill pay, for example, can theoretically keep tapping your bank account long after you're gone or, at least, until your money is. "It's important to make sure your online bank and shopping accounts, even your social media, can be closed out, or that your loved ones are authorized to access them," Presser says. "You may ask, 'Why would I care if I'm gone?' I can tell you from experience: because it can create real headaches, and more heartache, for your family." Bank and shopping accounts will be vulnerable to identity theft, which would affect your estate if someone opens credit cards in your name. You might have valuable intellectual property, like domain names. They may need access to your health records, particularly if you died under questionable circumstances, he says. There's the sentimental stuff – photos and emails — that your family may want as a remembrance of you, and the libraries of music and ebooks, which may represent a considerable investment on your part.
MORE >
Don’t Become a WordPress Hack Victim
MORE >
Hackers Use Social Media to Avoid Detection
The continued rise of social media has given hackers new platforms to exploit. Hackers are making malware that, instead of connecting to traditional C&C servers, which would be easier to detect, connects with social networks or search engines to receive updates. This is a technique researchers have already seen in recent cyberattacks. A recent piece of malware dubbed Miniduke used fake Twitter accounts to connect to C&C servers. With this rise in malware and means of spreading malicious software it is further stressed that you make sure that your computer is secure with the use of anti-virus/anti-malware software and that you are being vigilant about what you click on while using the internet. Another means of protecting yourself while on Facebook is to make sure you have a secure connection. For more on this, watch the video, "Secure Your Facebook," on the next page.
MORE >
Do Tech Companies Protect Your (And Your Clients') Privacy?
MORE >
Cybercrime: 65% of Internet Users are Victims [Infographic]
We spotted this infographic from My Computer Works, and thought it was timely, given recent reports of a scam site targeting REALTORS®. Of particular interest is the section on password strength, the first line of defense your online accounts have against hackers. For more on creating strong passwords, see 18 Terrible Passwords and How To Fix Them. In our ever evolving digital world, cyber security is a rising concern for not only businesses and nations, but even the individual PC user. Cybercrime is something most don't take seriously with preventative measures to keep themselves secure. Although America is not the most hacked nation in the world, as the infographic on the next page shows, we are still far from taking proper preventative measures. The most common password is quite simply password--the worst choice you could make to secure your online data. Click through to the next page to view the infographic.
MORE >
Facebook Hoax
MORE >
Open House Safety: 10 Tips for a Safe Open House
As the spring real estate season kicks off, a successful sign of your recent marketing efforts is a well-attended open house. As important as it is to bring in a high volume of traffic and attract the right audience, it is equally as important to ensure the safety of your sellers, prospective buyers, and yourself during this period of high traffic. We compiled ten pointers to keep in mind as your weekends begin filling up with successful and safe open houses. Safety Tips for Your Sellers & Prospective Buyers: 1.) Keep pets secured: Coordinate with your seller ahead of time to make sure that pets are not around during the open house. If this is not possible, work with your seller to make sure that his or her pet is comfortably secured, away from the traffic flow. 2.) Remove small/breakable items around the house: Request that your seller removes items that a prospective buyer could risk stepping on or tripping over, or that his or her child could possibly ingest. 3.) Create ambience...cautiously: While it is nice to add those warm touches, if you are lighting a candle, try using electric votives (even better, they are reusable!) to avoid a spill or fire. If you are looking to fill the house with the aroma of fresh baked cookies, turn the oven off prior to the arrival of prospective buyers.
MORE >
Are You a Mac? Are you Sick?
MORE >
WordPress security – Ignore at your peril
Ever looked at your WordPress site and had this reaction? Hopefully you haven't, but if you are not paying attention to routine maintenance you really can't complain if some nasty hacker destroys all your hard work and expense. Last October famous real estate blogger Jay Thompson got hacked and spent 60 hours trying to sort it all out icon sad WordPress security Ignore at your peril Now that WordPress is powering 14.7% of the top million websites in the world as of last August, there are more targets for those hackers. So be sure that WordPress core developers take security very seriously and they regularly update the core software at the first sign of trouble. WordPress have also made it much easier to install updates with just a couple of clicks. There are some very simple WordPress security steps to follow:
MORE >
REALTOR Safety Is Not Academic
MORE >
Protect Yourself! Who is Grabbing Your Data?
Who is collecting and mining advertising data about our likes, dislikes, birthday, address, gender, race, device we own, what we are looking to buy, our politics and so much more? We trust that if something bad were to happen, we would hear the screams of others and then pay attention. Most of us use the Internet with a bit of suppressed concern about privacy. We know there is something going on in the background, but don’t have the time or will to investigate it. Who is collecting and mining advertising data about our likes, dislikes, birthday, address, gender, race, device we own, what we are looking to buy, our politics and so much more? We trust that if something bad were to happen, we would hear the screams of others and then pay attention.
MORE >
Beware: Scams and Fraud in the Real Estate World
MORE >
Have You Taken Professional Responsibility For Your Online Privacy?
"The happiest people in the world are those who feel absolutely terrific about themselves, and this is the natural outgrowth of accepting total responsibility for every part of their life." -Brian Tracy Every day in the privacy world there is breaking news. From new legislation being introduced to new scams being exposed to data security breaches being announced, we are immersed in a world that I envisioned when I started Privacy Solutions 10 years ago: a world in which privacy matters to everyone.  
MORE >