The lockdown diaries, day #6: How safe is your (real estate) office’s remote work setup?

updated: 7 April

Working from home is the new normal for now under lockdown, but are you taking into account the potential risks it opens up to your (real estate) business and clients?

We’ve been doing the work from home thing for 5 years now, and in the process learned a great deal. As technology service provider to the real estate industry, I want to give you some pointers:

Apps: Video calls

The 1st thing everyone did under lockdown, is to install apps to facilitate video meetings. There are many apps available to facilitate virtual online meetings but not all of them are created equal.

Many estate agents and companies jumped on board with Zoom, which is a great free tool, but unfortunately full of reported security holes and privacy issues as noted in various news publications here:

Use Zoom at your own risk. If you do, make sure you don’t use it with the default settings, have a look here for guidance.

Alternatives

At Entegral we’ve been using Google Meet over the years. It provides a secure way of conducting video meetings online, and is also a very stable platform. Depending on the size of your team and whether you want a free or paid solution, you can have a look at the following summary of video chat tools available and see which one works best for you:

Skype from Microsoft is also a tried and tested platform that everyone knows, and you can now create virtual meetings easier through your web browser, just go to https://web.skype.com/

Skype is free and now easier to do online meetings

Apps: Browsers

  • With most online real estate systems now accessed via web browsers, are you using a secure browser like Chrome? It is also critical to keep your browser updated and leave the auto-update feature enabled.

Apps: Real estate management systems

  • Is the online management system you use secure? Check out this post.
  • While you are at it, check the security on your real estate website too, as it provide you and your clients with many benefits, here is some guidance.
  • Another thing you can check is user access to your systems, review roles and make sure only the required people have administrator access in order to protect mandate and contacts data.
Setting agent roles in Base

Apps: Email

  • Make sure you use a very strong email password and change it on a regular basis. It’s not safe to use the same passwords between various systems, in case one is compromised. You can check if any of your accounts in popular apps have been compromised here. Don’t download suspicious attachments and use 2-factor authentication where available.
  • Cybercrime is increasing in the real estate space and you need to be super careful these days. There are lots of scams with authentic looking emails that for instance asks buyers to pay money into a different account.
  • Check which email setup will work best for you. If you use the IMAP protocol it allows you to store a copy of your email on the email servers and sync between devices. In the event of your laptop crashing, you can simply setup your account on a new laptop and resync your email. Entegral provides 25GB email accounts which is perfect for this, but you can also review something like Google Apps (which includes Gmail, an enhanced version of Google Meet for video meetings, online file storage and more). The alternative is setting up your email as POP3 which will download email to your computer and delete it from the email servers. With this setup you need to make sure you keep your own backups.

Personal computers

Although most estate agents use their personal computers anyway on the road and from home, now is a good time as ever to review a few basics:

  • Are you using the latest (supported) operating system and running automatic updates to keep your operating system secure from attacks?
  • Is there a secure password when switching the computer on and an automatic log-off the screen?
  • Is there anti-virus installed and is it kept up to date?
  • Is the computer insured so there is businesses continuity if it is stolen? I can recommend Pineapple Insurance which is an innovative peer-to-peer solution to insure individual items almost instantly, they also provide a cash back feature. Use this referral code 60IR52 and get some discount ;)

I hope you found these pointers useful, if I’ve missed anything let me know!

Stay safe.

Lockdown run in circles around my house… I call it the Garden Route Trail run! ;)

I’m the CEO of www.entegral.net, I love working with my remote team to solve real estate problems. Questions everything.

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