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10 Ways to Keep Your Data and Technology Safe
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10 Ways to Keep Your Data and Technology Safe

Bill Hook, Published on December 24, 2018

It seems like cybersecurity issues haven’t been out of the news this year. If the systems of companies like Facebook and Google have weaknesses, what chance do smaller realtors and title agencies have?

Unfortunately, there are many different ways hackers can attack your network. This means there is no single catch-all method to keep your data and technology safe. Instead, you’ll have to take a number of measures to protect your system.

The following ten tips are things we recommend you do to protect your title agency. They are easy to implement, actionable steps that you can — and should — begin to take today.

Use a Firewall to Block all Points of Entry

Your network’s first system of defense is its firewall. Firewalls monitor all traffic coming into your network and block any risky connections.

When you think of firewalls, you may think of the program on your computer. However, you can also buy dedicated firewalls that sit between your router and your internet connection with the sole task of stopping attacks from reaching your network. Companies like Cisco specialize in this kind of product.

Closing all points of entry to your system means you should be able to stop unwanted connections reaching your server.

Keep Your Network Clean Using Robust Antivirus Software

Even dedicated firewalls will occasionally let malicious connections infiltrate your system. That is why it’s essential to have a secure and up-to-date antivirus system on your network.

Install antivirus programs on all computers on your network and make sure you run scans regularly. Also, remember to check any external hardware that you let access your system, such as USB storage.

Reduce Risk of Phishing With Email Monitoring Software

One of the weak points in your network is your emails. Or, rather, the people reading your emails.

Phishing scams — scams in which hackers send out emails pretending to be someone else in exchange for information — are a common way hackers gain access to sensitive data. This data can be used in wire fraud attempts on real estate transactions.

One way to stop this from happening is to use a software like Mimecast. Mimecast can filter out emails that contain phishing attempts, malicious attachments, and spam.

The best way to stop someone on your team falling for a phishing attempt is ensuring the email never reaches them in the first place.

Find Flaws and Assess Risk With Third-Party Penetration Testing

If you really want to see how your system will deal with an attack, it could be best to subject it to one. Obviously, you don’t actually want to give your data to hackers. Instead, you can hire a third-party penetration company to carry out the attack.

If the simulation finds flaws in your computer system, it will try to exploit the weakness. This allows you to not only find where the problems lie, but also see the potential risk these issues carry.

Once you know about the problems, you can begin to take steps to close them; thereby keeping your network secure.

Use Phishing Assessments to Spot Weaknesses and Educate Your Employees

Like penetration testing, phishing assessments simulate attacks to see how well prepared your organization is.

A third-party will send out phishing emails to see if they reach the target and — if they do — how people in your organization react and what information they give away. By seeing where your employees’ blind spots lie, you are in a better position to educate your staff about the risks of phishing.

Protect Yourself From Password Attacks With Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication adds an extra layer of security to your passwords. It requires the person logging in to an account to provide an extra piece of information — on top of the username and password — that only they have access to.

There are a few different types of two-factor authentication including SMS messages, a code from a document, or an app downloaded to your smartphone.

By using two-factor authentication on all your business’s essential programs and accounts, you’re adding an extra layer of security that should keep hackers out, even if they gain access to legitimate login credentials.

Educate Your Employees to Keep Your Data and Technology Safe

You’ll notice that many of the steps on our list involve weaknesses directly related to personnel in your organization. Weak passwords, lack of two-factor authorization, phishing attempts, and malicious software in emails are all ways that hackers target people.

Because of this, it is important that you keep everyone in your organization up-to-date and educated about the types of risk that exist and how to protect themselves online. This could reduce the chances of one of your employees giving network access to a hacker.

Plug Security Holes by Keeping all Your Software up to Date

Hackers are always coming up with new ways to hack into systems. Because of this, programmers regularly have to patch holes and add new security features to their programs. These security improvements get regularly released as updates.

If you notice a program you use has an update available, install it as soon as possible. If you don’t, you may be leaving yourself at risk.

A famous example of an attack that took advantage of out of date software is the WannaCry ransomware.

Ransomware encrypts all your data, leaving you unable to access it. To get access back, you have to pay a ransom to the hacker who promises to (but may not) provide you with the key to unlock your files.

WannaCry was able to exploit a vulnerability in the Windows operating system. While Microsoft did provide a security update, it wasn’t available to people using older versions of Windows, meaning they were left vulnerable.

In the end, this ransomware campaign is thought to have infected around 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

This brings us nicely onto our next tip.

Prepare for the Worst by Backing Up Your Data

Unfortunately, there is very little you can do about ransomware once it takes over your system. Preparing for the worst is the best thing you can do which means regularly backing up all your data.

If you do this, all you’ll have to do if you get hit by a ransomware attack (or lose your data in another way) is restore the data from your backup.

Stay One Step Ahead of Hackers by Adopting a Culture of Curiosity

Unfortunately, you can’t just set up your defense systems and be done with it.

Hackers are always coming up with new types of attack that need to be defended against. In order to keep one step ahead of the attackers, you need to continually invest in new technologies, procedures, and training mechanisms.

Remember, title agencies like yours handle high volumes of transactions, the kind criminals dream about. Which means you’re always going to be a target for wire fraud and other scams, and you could fall victim at any moment. That’s why you need a service like CertifID that can secure each transaction and guarantee it up to $1 million.

If you want peace of mind, sign up for our free trial today.

AUTHOR

Bill Hook

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