Learn how to protect your business from cybercrime at IDFPR conference

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Worried about hackers, computer viruses and wire fraud?

If you aren’t, you should be.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has put together a presentation on cybersecurity for real estate practitioners that should help protect your business.

The Cybersecurity Conference is 8:30 a.m.-noon June 6, in Chicago at the James R. Thompson Center auditorium and is open to all Illinois REALTORS®.

The session features presentations from an FBI special agent, industry leaders and includes a demonstration on how easy it is for hackers to get into your systems.

In light of the recent “Wannacry” computer malware infestation, this session could save you money and a lot of hassle. The agenda for the conference is here.

The IDFPR Cybersecurity Conference is sponsored in partnership with Illinois REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® and a host of industry-affiliated organizations and firms.

The Thompson Center is located at 100 W. Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601.

How to avoid WannaCry ransomware and other cyber threats

The WannaCry ransomware has attacked computers across the world. (Bigstock Image)

Ransomware has been attacking computers with Windows operating systems since last week and Inman Select gives REALTORS® four ideas to protect their systems from hackers. Meanwhile, NAR offers some resources to keep your computers more secure and protect private information of customers.

In the Inman Select story, “What real estate agents and brokers should be doing about WannaCry,” suggestions for REALTORS® include using “business-grade equipment,” updating software when prompted by onscreen messages, backing up data on computers and working with partners who take security seriously. Read more.

The ransomware known as “WannaCry” has struck more than 200,000 devices in more than 150 countries, disabling them and demanding payment before a remedy is provided.

In March, the NAR reminded members to protect their computers from loss of data, scams and hacks by following best practices. By logging in and using the NAR Data Security and Privacy Toolkit, members safeguard email, transactions, business procedures and limit damage. Some suggestions in the toolkit included:

  • Use encrypted email;
  • Never trust contact information from unverified emails;
  • Use strong passwords and change them frequently;
  • Make sure all parties use secure email procedures for transactions;
  • If wiring money, call intended recipients immediately prior to verify wiring instructions;
  • Develop and enforce policies for ensuring data security; and
  • Avoid storing clients’ personally identifiable information any longer than necessary.

Other NAR data privacy and security resources can be found here.

The toolkit also provides a link to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

REALTORS® Kmiecik and Hobbs consider cyber security enhancements in DC

NAR Federal Technology Policy Advisory Board Chair John Kmiecik

The National Association of REALTORS® Federal Technology Policy Advisory Board met early Tuesday at the NAR Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., and two Illinois members were involved in a discussion of strengthening cyber security.

REALTOR® John Kmiecik of Century 21 Affiliated in Oak Lawn, is chairman and REALTOR® Michael Hobbs, of Pahroo Appraisal & Consultancy in Chicago, is part of the advisory board. Both were on hand as Joe Sullivan of CRT Labs presented “Best Practices for Cyber Security in Real Estate” for NAR.

Michael Hobbs

The board is working on protecting members and their domestic and global transactions from cyber security threats. NAR REach® organizations presented some great products that can help protect members and their clients in the U.S. and internationally.

NAR provides members tips to prevent cyberfraud

Bigstock image

The Legal Affairs Department for the National Association of REALTORS® offers numerous best practices for preventing scams, hacks and loss of data as well as recovery if members and their clients fall victim to one of these situations.

REALTORS® can login and get the NAR Data Security and Privacy Toolkit for best practices regarding emails, transactions, business procedures and damage control. Some suggestions from the toolkit include:

  • Use encrypted email;
  • Never trust contact information from unverified emails;
  • Use strong passwords and change them frequently;
  • Make sure all parties use secure email procedures for transactions;
  • If wiring money, call intended recipients immediately prior to verify wiring instructions;
  • Develop and enforce policies for ensuring data security; and
  • Avoid storing clients’ personally identifiable information any longer than necessary.

The toolkit also provides a link to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Homeland Security offers 5 ways to enhance your cyber security

Mobile devices

The Department of Homeland Security suggests five best practices to safeguard important work and personal information from others as part of its “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign. Since October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the department recommends:

When in doubt, throw it out – Cyber criminals can use email, instant messages and online posts to access information they want through your computer, so don’t open attachments or links from people you don’t know.

Back it up – Viruses, malware, computer malfunctions and theft can destroy your work, so make electronic or physical backups.

Guard your devices – Prevent theft by locking your laptop or mobile device when they are not in use, and never leave them unattended in a public place.

Secure your accounts – Use passwords that are at least eight characters long, with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters. Don’t share user names with colleagues. When possible, use stronger authentication for security above and beyond a password.

Report anything suspicious – Notify your tech department if you experience unusual problems with your computer or mobile device.

For more helpful information, see the Stop. Think. Connect. Toolkit and visit staysafeonline.org.