Online branding is crucial to real estate agents, which is why protection against cyber scams is paramount.
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According to Bespoke Media Group’s Nic Fren, agents are oftentimes targeted by cyber conspirators — “almost like sitting ducks for hackers”.
He believes the reason for this is that “a lot of our content is showcasing our sales, nice cars, luxury holidays and lifestyle”.
Many of these hacks can result in personal and professional ramifications, which Mr Fren knows all too well, having been “on the receiving end of quite a few high-profile agent scam attempts this year”.
Having seen the frustrations of agents who are trying to get their accounts back, he has stressed the importance of proactively acting to improve cyber security as “critical”.
He has urged all agents to implement two-factor authentication on their accounts, a feature that ensures “whenever someone tries to log in to your account from an unknown device, you will receive a notification and be asked to enter a code or accept or decline the login attempt”.
On top of this, agents are encouraged to increase the difficulty of their passwords by introducing numbers and symbols to them, making it more difficult for someone to guess.
He also suggested insuring social media counts as an effective strategy to counteract cyber crime.
“Many don’t realise you can insure your accounts with platforms like Notch, whose crisis management team of experts work around the clock to help you retrieve your account,” he said.
Cyber attacks have increased in sophistication, leading to many scam emails now appearing authentic. Mr Fren cautioned about a recent trend of emails, which, at first glance, appear to be from social media giant Facebook but are, in fact, attempted scams.
“They look really convincing. To the point I almost clicked on a link,” he said.
He cautioned: “Be sure to always check the email address of the sender. If you receive an email from Facebook that looks real and the email address is a Gmail account, it’s a scam. Don’t click the link!
“Sadly, the attempts are getting better, and I’m seeing more and more people fall victim to these scams. It’s a reminder to not put all your eggs in one basket and ensure you are building an audience across multiple platforms.”
His calls for vigilance follow a big month for cyber security in the real estate sector. Industry giant Harcourts fell victim to an attack earlier this month, resulting in an unknown third-party gaining access to the network’s database.
Consequently, the industry kicked into action, with Stockdale & Leggo chief executive officer Charlotte Pascoe calling for real estate to take a cautious approach to cyber security in the same week that UNSW research fellow Dr Chris Martin called for government reviews of tenancy legislation in order to better protect against such attacks.
Most recently, the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) announced the development of a national cyber resilience toolkit, which chief executive officer Antonia Mercorella stated “meets the unique needs of real estate businesses and the legislative frameworks they operate within”.
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