It might be easy for brokers and agents who are on the go to overlook data security when managing files and equipment between offices and their homes, mobile devices and in the cloud.

But it’s important to remain diligent about protecting information that resides in the cloud — or on paper or a piece of hardware — because real estate brokers and agents suffer hundreds of security breaches each year, said Matt Cohen, chief technology officer for real estate consulting firm Clareity Consulting.

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Clareity Consulting’s Chief Technology Officer Matt Cohen talks about the importance of data security.

Most often, he wrote in a recent blog post detailing how agents can ensure their data’s security, information breaches occur in physical form — external hard drives, paper files, lost phones, even printer and fax hard drives — not network ones.

First of all, Cohen advised, it’s important for agents and brokers to understand and catalogue what sensitive information they have, where it is and the record disposal and storage laws in their states.

Then, they must know how to secure sensitive information, Cohen explained — files and sensitive hard drives locked in cabinets in locked rooms, for example.

Mobile devices are a critical component to maintaining security, Cohen said. They have emails, e-faxes, digitized documents and other sensitive information.

“Phones are especially vulnerable,” Cohen said. It’s important to activate the lock screen, enable data-swiping capabilities in case of loss or theft and set Bluetooth, the wireless, near-distance network technology, to “hidden mode,” he said.

It’s also important, Cohen said, to scrutinize Dropbox and other consumer-focused cloud-storage and sharing tools for their handling of sensitive data.

“The cloud is really not a place for personal and financial sensitive information,” Cohen said.

Professional-grade data management platforms from Instanet, CoreLogic, Lender Processing Services and other companies are ones brokers and agents should look to to handle their cloud-computing needs when it comes to info they want to keep secure, Cohen said.

 

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