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Data Backup and Compliance for the Real Estate Industry: Strengthening Protective Measures on Real Estate Data Sets

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

The real estate industry deals with massive volumes of sensitive personal data and financial information. As a result, we’ve seen the sector turning increasingly to real estate digital tools to help ease their work processes. However, these agile digital tools introduce new challenges and risks.

When storing sensitive real estate data sets in cloud-based tools, real estate firms must ensure that these pieces of personal information do not get lost or compromised through accidental deletion, unauthorized access, or cyber-attacks. Such events could cause severe negative impacts to any real estate business – financial losses, lawsuits, and reputational damage.

In addition, as real estate companies turn to cloud-based storage software to obtain, keep, and collaborate on various documents, they face increased regulatory requirements to comply with data protection in real estate.

As a result of these security and compliance pressures, real estate organizations must deploy a robust email backup and archiving solution that provides an added layer of protection for real estate data sets against any external threat attack or even accidental/malicious deletion by real estate professionals.

Read on to investigate the importance of data protection in real estate and how backup and archiving solutions can help mitigate current risks and meet regulatory requirements.

Real Estate Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks are prevalent in almost every industry; unfortunately, the real estate industry is no exception.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2021 revealed 11,578 victims of different types of real estate cyber attacks. These attacks involved ransomware, phishing, vishing, smishing, and pharming. Typically, they used unsolicited email, text messages, and telephone calls from people posing as an individual from a legitimate company requesting personal information, financial data, and/or login credentials.

Hackers also slide malicious code into real estate businesses’ computers through links sent in emails. For example, Palo Alto Networks detected over 100 real estate sites that were compromised through a skimmer attack: a hacking scheme where cybercriminals inserted a malicious JavaScript code to hack a website to collect sensitive user information.

The industry experienced losses of $359.3 million from these real estate cyber attacks in 2021–an increase in estimated losses from $213.1 million in 2020.

According to the 2021 Data Protection Report from Shred-It, about 70% of real estate companies have experienced a data breach. 58% have experienced a data breach in the previous year. More recently, Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed the real estate industry has already had 118 data breaches so far.

Ultimately, the major security and compliance risk for real estate companies is data loss: losing control of their sensitive real estate data sets. Recovery of this critical data may be difficult if a company does not have effective data backup and archiving systems. As a result, real estate companies may face lawsuits, regulatory fines, and reputational damage.

Data Regulations in Real Estate

Like other industries, real estate companies must adhere to data regulations to ensure that consumer information remains safe and will not be used unlawfully. Here are some data regulations that real estate companies must comply with:

The Federal Trade Commission’s Principles of Data Protection

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set governing principles concerning organizations’ data privacy and security measures. These guidelines encourage companies to adapt to the increasing use of digital tools among industries:

  • Take stock. This principle involves knowing which devices store all sensitive information, who has access to these pieces of information, and where the data is kept within the organization.
  • Scale down. Organizations should only use personal information (such as Social Security and credit card numbers) for lawful purposes. These data sets should not be retained by an organization if not necessary.
  • Lock it. Data access must be limited to those authorized to access and process information. This includes having to encrypt stored data or data being transferred electronically. Organizations also must be able to detect breaches when they occur.
  • Pitch it. Organizations have to have proper information disposal practices when discarding data sets that are no longer needed.
  • Plan ahead. Aside from laying out preventive and protective measures, businesses must also create a plan of action and response that can be put into play should a data breach occur.

Gramm Leach Bliley Act

The Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) primarily covers financial institutions. Still, the legislation also includes institutions that provide real estate settlement services. This law covers the safety of consumers’ “nonpublic information,” which encompasses Social Security numbers, account numbers, and other financial data and history.

The FTC, the federal banking agencies, other federal regulatory authorities, and state insurance authorities enforce the Gramm Leach Bliley Act.

The US government may enforce civil or criminal actions in events of violation of data protection principles. Violation of the legislation can lead to civil monetary penalties of between USD 5,000 to USD 1 million per day.

For example, residential and commercial real estate franchise Weichert had to pay a USD 1.2 million settlement for violating several data protection regulations, including the GLBA, over alleged inadequate cybersecurity safeguards that led to multiple incidents of unauthorized access to its network.

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003

This legislation is intended to enhance consumer protections, particularly with identity theft. But, in the context of real estate data security, it calls for taking reasonable measures to protect highly sensitive data from unauthorized access or the use of the information in connection with its disposal.

General Data Protection Regulation

Organizations in the European Union, including those in the real estate industry, must adhere to similar data protection standards. Organizations need to securely handle real estate data sets by implementing “appropriate technical and organizational measures.”

This includes ensuring that technological safeguards (such as encryption) are in place and maintaining detailed documentation of the collected data: how it’s used, where it’s stored, and the employees responsible for them. The GDPR also calls for limiting access to personal data only to employees who need it.

EU organizations impacted by a data breach have 72 hours to notify the data subjects about the compromise of their data or face penalties. However, the legislation may waive this notice requirement given the implementation of technological safeguards (such as encryption).

Backup and Archiving for the Real Estate Sector

Backup and archiving solutions protect the information that real estate organizations own: whether it’s data from the client or internal records related to the company’s operations.

In the case of cyberattacks, real estate companies will not have to worry about paying ransom or giving into attackers’ demands to get their data back. In terms of intentional or accidental deletion of data, companies can get back missing data immediately through their backups and archives. And in both cases, data recovery is quick, inexpensive, and painless. With this protection in place, real estate firms can ensure that they meet compliance regulations with tamper-proof documents within their backup and archiving systems.

This is what Dropsuite specializes in.

Real estate organizations can keep their business-critical real estate data sets safe, secure, and protected with our cloud-based solution. Across a range of cloud-based ecosystems – Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, IMAP-POP, or Hosted Exchange – our solution efficiently backs up, stores, preserves, and, if necessary, quickly restores data at a moment’s notice.

Furthermore, Dropsuite protects real estate data sets through the following features:

  • Military-grade encryption: TLS or SSL secure connections coupled with 256 Bit AES military-grade encryption safeguard real estate client data at all times, both in transit and at rest. Information is backed up, preserved, and protected should it be needed in the event it is corrupted, encrypted, or deleted.
  • Data access filters: Ensure data protection in real estate and compliance with various regulations through easy-to-set-up user roles, allowing the ability to grant or deny access to employees depending on their need for sensitive data. Generate reports and audit trails on data access to enable data and activity reports internally and to third-party authorities.
  • Advanced search tools: Dropsuite makes it easy for firms to find specific consumer data that may be under review and report on activities associated with that data. Real estate firms can then easily comply with requests to verify that their data disposal was properly adhered to.

Our easy-to-use, secure, and scalable backup and recovery tools not only provide business compliance; but also enable business continuity. Real estate firms can set retention rates as long as necessary for compliance. Moreover, addressing lawsuits and discovery processes becomes easier through applied legal or time-based holds within any platform where pertinent real estate data sets are stored.

Real estate businesses can easily set up an automated backup and/or archiving system, even with a minimal IT budget. Real estate companies get industry-leading backup and recovery solutions for a very low cost-per-seat license.

Talk to our experts here to learn more about how Dropsuite ensures data protection in real estate.

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