How to Prevent Data Breach in Property Related Companies

In 2022, 39 percent of companies in the UK experienced data breaches. Undoubtedly, this can be devastating for companies, especially for small businesses with limited resources. 

In the property industry, data breaches can be of great concern, as companies often collect sensitive personal and financial information from their customers, properties, and potential buyers. Here are a few tips and trips on how property-related companies can effectively prevent data breaches.

Implement strong passwords 

Implementing strong passwords is a simple, but crucial step to prevent data breaches. Passwords should be unique and should not be based on easily identifiable information. Instead, use a mixture of special characters, letters and numbers to ensure that all your passwords are difficult to crack. 

Make sure you update your passwords regularly to ensure their continued strength. You should also consider using password management software to generate and store your passwords.  

In addition to using strong passwords, it is also a good idea to implement multifactor authentication (MFA) for your company’s accounts and devices. This means that every time someone tries to log in to your accounts, they must verify an additional form of verification – such as a code sent to a phone or a biometric scan – to access sensitive information. Undoubtedly, adding this additional security layer reduces the risk of data breaches and prevents bad actors from accessing your sensitive data

Protect your company’s network

There are several ways to protect your company’s network, including using firewalls, VPNs and encryption software. Firewalls are important, as they protect your network from external threats by blocking unauthorised access. Antiviral software, on the other hand, protects your devices from malware. Installing and keeping these security measures up to date is essential, to ensure they are 100% effective in protecting against the latest threats. 

Encrypting your devices helps protect the data stored on them if they are lost or stolen. This is particularly important for devices that store sensitive data. In addition, regular updates to your software and operating systems continue to protect your devices from data breaches and other vulnerabilities. 

Last but not least, give access to sensitive information only to certain employees who need it for their work. Consider adding role-based access restrictions that allow you to set different levels of access based on an employee’s role.

Educate your employees about data breaches

Educating your employees about how to protect company and customer information is an important step to ensure that everyone is aware of the risks of data breaches. Teach employees about how to identify phishing scams, what a data breach is, what good password practices are, and what to do in the event of a data breach.

Train your employees on appropriate security protocols. These can include how sensitive documents can be handled and how they can be disposed of securely when they are no longer needed.  

Mortgage brokers are one area of the industry that regularly collects sensitive financial information on their clients in order to process mortgage applications on behalf of their clients. Pete Mugleston, Mortgage Advisor and MD at Online Mortgage Advisor ensures strict data compliance when handling customer information and explains what measures they are putting in place to ensure data protection for their customers at all times, “We treat the issue of personal information seriously in accordance with GDPR and the information we use is never stored outside of the European Economics Area (EEA). To enforce a strict company policy, we also employ a Data Protection Officer who monitors security and the use of personal information. Staff are also educated in the handling of personal information through tests”. 

Use encrypted communication channels

The use of encrypted communication channels is a good step forward for property-related companies that want to ensure maximum security. Encrypted communication channels help protect against data breaches by encrypting messages and data in such a way that unauthorised parties cannot access them.

Use end-to-end encrypted chat services such as Telegram, Signal and Viber to ensure that the messages you send cannot be accessed by third parties. End-to-end email encryption can be achieved by using encrypted email software or built-in encrypted options that protect the contents and attachments of the email from being accessed by anyone without permission. 

If your service depends on video conferencing, make sure you use video conferencing software that ensures end-to-end encryption. Zoho Meeting, Microsoft Teams and Pexip are some of the leading video conferencing services that value privacy and security. Using such software not only prevents data breaches, but also strengthens your reputation with clients. 

Implement consent management safeguards

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of regulations that protect the privacy of individuals by requiring companies to obtain explicit consent before collecting, using or sharing personal data. Using a consent management platform not only ensures that your property-related company is GDPR-compliant, but also protects your clients’ personal data.

Consent management platforms typically manage consent collection, management and processing. In addition, they ensure that the data is automatically deleted or anonymised once the data retention period expires. These measures continue to strengthen your reputation as a GDPR-compliant company, while protecting it from possible data breaches. 

Hire a security consultant

Whether you are a mortgage advisor, a rental agency or a real estate development company, securing your data should be one of your top priorities. Hiring a security consultant can help you assess your company’s vulnerabilities and take additional measures to prevent data breaches. 

Security consultants can help you assess your company’s current security measures and their effectiveness. They also identify vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. This could involve analysing your company’s network and devices, as well as reviewing your security policies and procedures.

Based on the security assessment, a professional can recommend and implement additional security measures to protect your company and clients’ sensitive information. The consultant could recommend the introduction of multifactor authentication or additional firewalls and antivirus software. 

As the potential for data breaches is constant, a one-off security analysis is not enough. Therefore, you should regularly hire a security consultant to ensure that your company’s security measures are up to date. 

Keep yourself informed

To prevent data breaches in your property-related company, keeping yourself informed about the latest security measures is a must. From educating your employees and core team about data breaches, to hiring a security consultant and using encrypted communication channels, every step is necessary to avoid a devastating cybersecurity breach. 

Unfortunately, it takes years to regain clients and public trust after a data breach. Therefore, preventing it, rather than trying to pick up the pieces when it happens, is essential to not only retain clients, but also position yourself as the go-to property company that takes data security seriously.

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