Keeping client details safe from hackers

Four simple tips for protecting personal information on mobile devices from computer hackers.

Keeping client details safe from hackers
Computer hackers have been around for a while, and most brokers have long had secure office computer systems. What has changed is that we are now using a much wider range of devices; the new generation of cloud-based aggregation systems allow brokers to enter details on laptops, tablets and even phones. All of these devices could be potentially hacked.

Glen Weinberg, CEO of US private lender Fairview Commercial Lending, has listed in our sister title Mortgage Professional America four guidelines to help secure your clients information with minimal effort:

1. Use Dual Authentication:

Dual authentication requires two passwords to allow a user access.  For example to log into one our banks we put in a user name and a text is sent to us with a unique passcode, the passcode is entered from the text and then we are able to enter in our password. The vast majority of systems now utilize this methodology from banks to service providers.  To setup, it is usually as simple as requesting it from the provider. Having dual authentication almost eliminates the issue of a password being stolen since the hacker would also need your cell phone.

2. Encrypt:
Encryption basically encodes a drive that is unreadable without a “key”.   This is one of the strongest forms of data security.  In layman’s terms it makes the drive unreadable without the proper password. For example, if a laptop was stolen and the drive was encrypted, the data is protected.  Everyone with a laptop should encrypt their drive.  There is a free file encryption in Windows 8 (called Bitlocker) that is easy to use, hardly noticeable and just needs to be activated with a few simple steps.

3. Do not use public hotspots:

Many times when you are out in public (think Starbucks, McDonalds, hotels) you need to get online and these locations offer free internet connections.  What a bargain, right? Unfortunately as a user on a free open network, your data is susceptible.  Last weekend I was at a real estate conference, I went to get online and there were three “guest” networks available.  One could easily be a person next door that setup a network labelled guest.  If I connect to that network they can skim any data I am sending. So what do you do?  Turn on the hotspot on your phone and give it a unique name.  This way you know you are connecting to a trusted network

4. Protect your cell phone with a password: 
As professionals, I’m assuming most people have email on their phones, and emails often include sensitive information.  Along with protecting your laptop, ensure you use the passcode on your phone.  There is also a setting on iPhones to erase the phone data after 10 failed attempts.