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More and more, people are completing the entire real estate transaction process online. From searching for properties to signing documents, online convenience can make the process easier and more efficient. However, with all of this activity taking place on the internet, it is important to be aware of the potential security risks that come along with it. Here are the eight common cybersecurity issues that can arise during the purchase of real estate online and how you can protect yourself against them.
This is, unfortunately, the world we live in - and it makes sense, given the large sums of money involved. Cybercriminals may attempt to hack into the system and gain access to private information. They may even try to interfere with the transaction process itself, delaying or preventing it from taking place at all.
To combat this threat, make sure you are using a secure online platform when completing the transaction and be sure to only provide personal information when necessary.
When you are completing a real estate transaction online, a lot of your personal information will be requested. This can include anything from your address and phone number to your bank account information. If this information is not properly secured, it could be at risk of being accessed by cybercriminals.
To keep yourself safe, it is important to know what to look out for. You should watch for the commonly attempted ways that remote real estate buyers might be targeted and understand what you should do in the event of a breach.
2. Data breaches
Buying real estate remotely involves a number of different tools, like online payment gateways and other web services. All of these tools can be vulnerable to data breaches, which means that hackers could gain access to your personal information stored on their servers. To protect yourself, research a service’s security standards before providing any sensitive information or look for an alternative if the security measures are inadequate.
Always make sure you are observing best practices during and after an online purchase, which include doing things like updating your passwords as appropriate and monitoring your credit cards for any suspicious activity. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your online real estate transaction is secure.
3. Phishing scams
These are attempts to obtain your personal information by pretending to be a legitimate source and they are on the rise. Be sure to only provide your information on secure websites and look for signs of legitimacy, such as “https” in the web address or a padlock icon in the URL bar.
Phishing scams that target real estate buyers might include emails, text messages, and voicemails asking you to provide your credit card details or other personal information to make a purchase. Make sure to always look for signs of legitimacy before providing any sensitive information.
They might also include bogus emails from lawyers or other professionals with malicious links or attachments. Be sure to only open emails from verified sources and never click on suspicious links.
4. Malware threats
Malicious software can be used to steal your personal information, such as banking credentials and passwords, or to install ransomware that locks you out from accessing your own files. To protect yourself from malware, make sure to install trusted antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer. Additionally, make sure to always keep your operating system up to date with the latest security patches.
5. Identity theft
Identity theft is a growing problem online and can be especially dangerous for real estate buyers. Hackers may use stolen information to gain access to your bank accounts or other financial resources, making it important to protect all your personal information from potential thieves. Make sure to use secure passwords, avoid public Wi-Fi networks, and never provide sensitive information over email.
This is especially pressing in an age where people are so much more mobile and global than they ever have been. Real estate transactions can be conducted from airports, coffee shops and all manner of unsecured wireless networks, which demands extra vigilance when it comes to cybersecurity.
6. Website hacking
Hackers can also gain access to websites and steal information stored on them, including user data. To protect yourself from website hacking, make sure that the websites you use have strong security protocols in place. Additionally, look for signs of legitimacy such as a padlock icon in the URL bar and verify any third-party links or attachments before clicking on them.
If you are dealing with a real estate agent that uses a website, make sure it is secure and they have taken proper precautions to protect your data.
7. Social engineering attacks
Social engineering attacks are when hackers use psychological tactics to get you to reveal confidential information or take some sort of action. For example, they may send fraudulent emails that appear to come from a real estate agent asking for your personal details or credit card numbers. Make sure to always verify the source of any emails before taking any action.
The best way to identify a social engineering attack is to look for suspicious language, attachments, or links in the email. If anything looks out of the ordinary, it's best to delete the message and report it to your security provider.
You can always take extra steps to protect yourself, like using two-factor authentication when logging into accounts or working with a cybersecurity professional. By staying vigilant and taking proactive measures, you can help ensure that your online real estate transactions are secure.
8. Having weak passwords
Another common cybersecurity issue is having weak passwords. Make sure to use strong passwords when creating any accounts associated with your real estate purchase. You should also change your passwords on a regular basis and never reuse old passwords or share them with anyone else.
Using a password manager can also help you keep track of all your different passwords and store them in a secure place. If you're dealing with an agent, ask them to use strong passwords as well, and make sure that they keep all of your personal information safe.
Real estate transactions are increasingly taking place online, which can create potential security risks if proper precautions aren't taken. By following best practices and being aware of the common cybersecurity issues associated with purchasing real estate online, you can help ensure that your transaction is secure. With a bit of extra effort and knowledge, you can rest assured knowing that your online property purchases are safe and secure.