Very recently, as part of our continuous and important RE/MAX trainings, we attended a session on avoiding and reducing our chances of being attacked by cyber hackers. The points discussed all increase the awareness of how vulnerable our devices (cell phones, tablets, servers and computers) are.
In real estate alone, over $530,000,000 annually is stolen by cyber crime hackers. 71% of cyber theft is against small businesses and regular people. 480 million people were hacked last year. Essentially, this is because of less sophisticated security protocols used. When coupled with carelessness, cyber theft is becoming rampant as a threat to all of us.
Last year, cyber theft has increased over 480%. The 5.3 billion stolen from consumers exceeds the global narcotics trade. Now that’s scary!
What are the criminals after? They are after your non-public information. Things like Social Security numbers, account numbers, credit card information, driver license info, date of birth. Their goal is to collect personal information, so they can steal your identity. Criminals are very sophisticated and dedicated to their game. They also have time on their side. They choose when to strike. Criminals can collect bits of your private information over a long period of time and when they believe you are vulnerable, well, it’s game over.
Be clear, you cannot stop cybercrime. You can only work to make yourself less attractive to criminals. They usually will go after the easy prey first. By practicing good Cyber Hygiene, you can reduce you risk of being a victim. Do you recall the story about being chased by a lion? Well, you only need to run faster than the slowest runner!
Here are our Top 10 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cyberfraud:
- Do not click suspicious email attachments or links and be careful what you download
- Prevent wallet skimming by carrying your credit cards in RIFD Anti Theft Protector Sleeves or case
- Beware of opening PDFs.
- Always use encryption for sensitive email. Don’t send financial information from a non-secure personal email account. Wiring funds for real estate transactions needs to be encrypted.
- Do not do business over unsecured sites – look for the https
- When in public places do not use their free Wifi. Instead use your phone as a hotspot. Hackers get paid to sit in restaurants and steal your information
- Keep your operating system up-to-date on all devices.
- Install and regularly update antivirus software.
- Use strong passwords and change them every 90 days.
- When you travel hold off on posting your plans and photos on social media until you return. Thieves monitor these sites and they will know you are away and that your house is vacant
Be aware that the email accounts of other parties you are communicating with may be unsecure or easily hacked.
Types of Cyber Theft include, infecting your device with malware and ransomware viruses. Google up – smishing, spoofing, spear fishing and vishing. Make the effort to protect yourself.
What else can you do?
Security experts advise you to not use free email accounts – many providers offer security enhanced upgrades. i.e. Gmail – Enterprise account. Check social media security settings. Share with friends and clients this story of the dangers of cyberfraud. When in public places like an airport, restaurant or lobby, do not use unsecured charging stations. Best to invest in a portable USB battery pack to charge your devices.
Our clients now know that we are taking steps to keep them safer. Everyone needs an emergency plan ready so if you feel you have been hacked, you can minimize the damage.
Better to be safe than sorry.
Contact us for a list of websites with additional information. Call 941-321-3916