Estate Agents: How to ensure security when handling sensitive data

If you’re an estate agent, the likelihood is that you handle a lot of sensitive data, dealing with deposits, client bank details, addresses and other confidential information. Whilst companies must have data protection measures in place, it’s difficult to guarantee the protection of data. For example, human error has often been to blame for many workplace data breaches in the past.

Data breaches caused by human error often occur due to a lack of training, the loss of devices containing secure information, or a lack of security that can lead to data being vulnerable. Often, hackers look out for and take advantage of weak passwords, unsecured networks, and out-of-date security set-ups as well as sending out phishing or scam emails with malware attached. But what can you do to ensure your and your client’s data is as safe as possible?

Keep your security system up to date

It is of utmost importance that you regularly update your security system. With hackers often developing new ways to take advantage of security systems, you must make sure there are no weaknesses in your system.

Use secure passwords

Make sure that you and your staff use secure passwords, use a long combination of numbers, letters, characters, capitals, and symbols. Software like Keychain and others can automatically set and remember complicated passwords, making them much harder to hack.

Work on secured networks

If possible, make sure your agency and staff handle sensitive data on a dedicated secure network. Use encryption software on your wireless access points as hackers often target your data through your Wi-Fi network. Additionally, change your SSID to make it less obvious who your network belongs to.

Be aware of phishing emails

Though some phishing emails are obvious, scammers are becoming more adept at mimicking the communications of real businesses, often attaching malware and keystroke loggers to very convincing emails. Before clicking on anything, make sure you’ve done everything to ensure the email is from a legitimate source.

Engage with clients about data security

Urge your clients to be vigilant. Talk them through how to spot suspicious activity and what communication they can expect to receive from you.

Staff training on handling sensitive data

It can be costly but making sure your staff are fully trained on data handling can save a lot of money in the long term.

Follow GDPR principles

These seven key principles should lie at the heart of your approach to processing data: Lawfulness, Fairness and Transparency, Purpose Limitation, Data Minimisation, Accuracy, Storage Limitation, Integrity and Confidentiality, and Accountability. Compliance with the spirit of these key principles is essential and failure to comply can lead to costly fines of £17.5 million, or 4% of your total turnover, whichever is higher.

Whilst it's certainly true that mistakes can and do happen when it comes to confidential data, you need to ensure that you’re doing all you can to minimise the possibility of a data breach.