While service professionals are generally becoming more aware of the increasing incidents of computer-related crime, such incidents continue to substantially increase in number. The dynamics of the social and entrepreneurial personalities and practices of the agent, combined with highly-sophisticated cyber-criminal operations, continue to create vulnerabilities for real estate professionals. Regular use of social media, personal communication devices, internet advertising and unprotected email and domain names (i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org) makes agents an easy target for the intruder.
Cybercrime comes in varied forms and terminology is loosely used to describe its’ different forms: phishing, hacking and spamming are among the common terms related to fraud, extortion and social engineering. Common occurrences include:
There are numerous preventative strategies to help minimize the risk of cybercrime. Recognizing that the “bad guys” are sophisticated international experts, preventative methods should be taken seriously and vigorously implemented.
Brokers and business owners who implement security methods like anti-virus software and other protective measures for the firm’s computer and email programs should mandate that agents and employees only conduct business with those approved programs – no individual google or yahoo accounts, separate websites, etc.
Some experts state that it is “when”, not “if”, a business will be compromised. Insurance products exist that will offer protection if data is lost or a wire fraud, extortion or other cybercrime event happens. Policies can be tailored to the needs of a particular business. For example, not all businesses act as custodians of funds so they may not need protection for that, but almost all businesses need some type of insurance for data breach, theft or extortion. A Business Office Liability or Errors & Omissions policy may offer some incidental coverage, though a stand-alone policy is recommended for broader protection, with premiums being generally affordable. These policies will offer coverage for notification, credit card monitoring, credit card industry fines, forensics, data restoration and more. Many also include risk management information and hotlines to help reduce the risk of a cybercrime.
John Torvi is the Vice President of Marketing & Sales at the Herbert H. Landy Insurance Agency of Needham, MA. John has been in the insurance industry, focusing on the needs of business owners, for over 27 years. He holds a Bachelors Degree from Providence College and a Masters Degree from Springfield College and is a frequent speaker and contributor to professional journals and conferences for the legal, accounting, real estate and insurance industries.
The Landy Agency is a national leader in providing non-medical, professional liability and cybercrime insurance for accountants, attorneys, and real estate professionals. John can be reached at 781‐292‐5417 or email@example.com. Visit www.landy.com for more information.
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