You’re putting your livelihood at risk if you’re “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to creating a data security plan, especially as the real estate industry faces growing cyberthreats, says Maame Nyamekye, staff attorney at the National Association of REALTORS®, in NAR’s latest “Window to the Law” video. The impact of a cyberattack on your business could be great: “A data security breach could potentially hurt your business financially, lead to a lawsuit and tarnish your reputation,” Nyamekye says.
Still, many businesses are unprepared. Only 35% of companies have programs in place to detect, prevent and respond to fraud threats, according to a survey earlier this year by tax services firm KPMG. “Fraud, compliance risk and cyberattacks are increasing at an alarming rate, eating away profits across the U.S.,” says Amanda Rigby, forensic service network leader at KPMG. “Collectively, these issues create a ‘threat loop,’ which can quickly overwhelm companies with economic loss, regulatory loss and reputation loss. Despite the potential for calamity, the majority of U.S. companies are not ready to fight the threat loop.”
In the video, Nyamekye highlights what brokers and agents can do to minimize their risk in the event of a data security breach. The tips are based on Federal Trade Commission principles for creating a data security plan. Nyamekye urges members to:
- Take stock of the information your brokerage handles and where it’s being stored. You also need to know who in the company has access to what.
- Have a retention policy outlining what information your company will retain and for how long based on legal requirements and your business’s needs, Nyamekye says. At least 35 states have laws addressing the proper disposal of personal information.
- Be proactive in having safety measures in place both for your technology and physical space to protect any sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access.