CENTURY 21Ⓡ Open House: Keeping Data Safe
In a world rampant with identity theft and data breaches, it can be scary to give information to anyone. However, when buying a house, disclosing classified information is a must. Rett Harmon of CENTURY 21 Novus Realty shares the careful steps realtors can take to keep sensitive info safe and secure.
“We keep our data secure by storing all of it in the cloud. Thankfully, we have never suffered a security breach as we try to use the most trusted cloud-based sources,” explains Harmon.
Most tech insiders agree1 that cloud-based storage systems are secure. In these systems, data is kept in off-site servers that can be anywhere in the world. While this might sound riskier than keeping your information where you can see it, the fact is that hacking attempts mainly target traditional computer servers. Cloud storage systems offer more protection from hackers and cyber attacks.
“All of our data is backed up in the cloud. We make sure that we do business with cloud-based service providers that have locations in multiple areas and often backup their servers. We don’t rely on an IT department, and you will find zero servers in my office,” says Harmon.
An unfortunate drawback to life in the age of the internet is wire fraud. This can make placing a down payment on a home nerve-wracking for clients.
It’s important to have conversations about staying vigilant. Even though a wire transfer can be initiated from home using a mobile banking app, it’s a good idea to discuss the transfer with a bank or credit union. Certain banks have security measures in place, and it’s important to know what they are. If someone receives an e-mail telling them that the wiring instructions have changed, they should double check e-mail correspondences to be sure they are in fact communicating with right party.2
The same type of precaution is necessary when signing electronic documents. Using secure services like DocuSign as opposed to e-mailing a signed PDF provides more protection. FIles sent through DocuSign display information that the document has been protected, or conversely can show when a document has been tampered with and can’t be trusted.3
Files sent without this type of protection, for example PDF files attached to an e-mail, are at risk of having a signature stolen by a hacker.
“Printed records should be a thing of the past, but my office staff still likes to keep a paper backup. It does drive me crazy, but I have to pick my battles,” Harmon says. “We do have many security measures for printed materials. We keep a securely locked container for any items with client or personal information. The box is picked up routinely by a company that properly destroys then recycles it to continue to keep the information confidential, even once we no longer need it.”
It’s no surprise that digital files are more convenient to all types of businesses. We no longer have to search file cabinets for a record, just simply type what we need into a search bar. However, digital records mean new methods of data security must be implemented.
“Confidentiality is of the utmost importance to us,” Harmon says. “We want our clients to know that their conversations are between us. Building Trust is the key to success and longevity in this business.”