Sixty percent of small businesses, such as real estate agents, close down after a hit by this silent attack: data breach, according to this report by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. A data breach refers to the theft of customer data when transacting with you.
Real estate broker, Michael Haney was sued by Massachusetts for merely allowing a customer data breach. In most states, realtors are required by law to report data breaches to not only the state but also their clients.
But legal troubles are not the reason why an agent loses their business after a data breach. Think about what happens after a breach. What does a client say when sharing their data theft story with friends and family? "Oh, it happened when we were buying the house. And you know Carolyn is such a great realtor, I absolutely loved working with her. But somehow her email came under attack by a hacker network, due to no fault of hers mind you, and we got our social security number and bank loan details stolen." Of course, all the client's connections would agree Carolyn is great but no one would want to work with her, would they?
Are You at Risk?
If your customers email you transaction related paperwork (even if you don't), then your risk is very real. Because as much as 20% of the email traffic is commonly attacked. And you cannot tell if data from an email has been stolen since the email itself is not altered.
Joint research by University of Michigan, Google, and University of Illinois Urbana Champagne, measured over 700,000 mail servers, and found that only 35% were configured for encryption, and most had glaring loopholes that allow attackers to reroute emails to their servers. Their investigation of Gmail in particular showed that up to 20% of all messages were attacked.
Major email providers (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, AOL) and millions of other email domains "offer no protection against active adversaries" who could observe or inject data between an email server and the Internet, says Prof Alex Snoeren and his fellow computer scientists at University of California San Diego, based on their measurements of current email services.
That’s why your bank never sends account statements over email.
Even with strong passwords and secure WiFi…
An email data breach can occur even when your computer is not attacked, your phone is not stolen, and your email account is not hacked into. The attackers simply spy on emails as they travel across the Internet.
The cyber-criminals are not after you personally. But when they speed away with their loot, you end up as roadkill.
Delay the Closing?
Now, you probably do not want to delay the closing by asking your buyer or seller to send a fax or wait for the meeting to deliver the paperwork. There is in fact a much easier solution.
In the past, email encryption was hard. You either had to install security software on your email server and mess with server configurations, or pay someone a lot of money to do that. Smaller banks and some health insurance plans do this.
Then came encrypted webmail. Not as expensive, and seemingly as easy to sign up as Gmail or Hotmail. But using the encryption was hard. Either all your email would get encrypted causing the customer to take extra steps even for simple messages like confirming the time for the showing, or you would take extra, error prone steps to encrypt selectively.
Worst of all, they did not make it easy on your customer to open your encrypted email. Your customer would either have to create a new account, get a special code from you over the phone, or jump through other hoops.
The reason why it remained hard is that the previous solutions were either built for large corporations with an IT department to set it up, or meant primarily for specialized businesses, such as medical clinics, requiring legal compliance. They were concerned with security and not business growth.
That is where Encyro comes in. It's easy to use and helps you grow your business through cleverly designed features that showcase your brand and demonstrate your security expertise.
Easy, done already
It's easy because you do not have to install any security software, encryption keys, or mess with any email configurations. You keep your existing email address.
And it's easy on your customers because they do not need to create an extra account to send or receive secure messages and email attachments. They can send you a secure attachment, even when not replying to your secure email.
You and your clients can access the secure messages and attachments on mobile devices.
Even take a photo of some urgent document or property issue with the phone and send it securely from the phone itself, without installing any app.
Grows your brand
You upload your brand logo and/or photo, and it automatically appears on your page where sellers or buyers initiate secure communications with you, without creating an account. And if they do create a free Encyro account, your branding gets permanently displayed on a folder with your messages and attachments, right on their account's front page.
For your customers
While the other solutions allow you to send securely, to keep you in compliance, they do not provide a method for your customer to initiate a secure communication thread with you. Only Encyro does that.
Beyond end to end protection
Other solutions only protect the email until it reaches your endpoint (computer, phone). They call it end to end protection. But your risk does not end there. Once on your phone, the email is stored without encryption by your email app. If you forward that email or attachments, even if using their secure email solution, the data remains stored without encryption in your sent mail folder.
With Encyro, when you open a message, the message is not stored in your email app. And Encyro lets you forward attachments without downloading them.
The reason why previous solutions leave security loopholes is that they are solving the security problem for email technology rather than for what it does for your business. Encyro always thinks about how technology helps your business. And makes solutions that are easy to integrate with the way you do business.
More listings, more closings
For some, security is just another business overhead. But used right, it is an opportunity to boost your business in very real ways.
Stand Out! The National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found that more buyers found the home they bought online than through other means. If you are on track to get more listings or helping your team get more listings, then showing your online expertise is important. Of course, all your competitors are also telling sellers, FSBOs, and expired listing owners that they will list online at Zillow, Trulia and all the other websites that you cover. But your awareness and action on keeping your sellers information safe online, shows them that your expertise goes deeper. And if this edge gets you just one extra listing, it is way more than worth it.
Be the expert. No one wants to deal with a part-timer or a novice. Especially not when buying or selling their life's biggest asset. Real estate broker Loida Velasquez explains in her video on tips for new agents that it is very important for your client to feel that you are an expert. Being able to answer their questions and demonstrating your knowledge of professional details, such as keeping the transaction secure, are key to earning their trust in the very first meeting.
Save time. Energy sucking activities, such as downloading, unzipping and copying email attachments are not only a time sink but add to the stress and frustration of our work day. With Encyro, your email attachments are automatically organized into client folders, and backed up at multiple locations. Saving you time and energy that you can spend on connecting with more prospects, staying ahead of your competition, and growing your business.
Long term connections. Some years after the transaction, your client would probably lose that fridge magnet or promo item you gave them, and your email threads would have slipped way down in inbox history. They might have even marked your marketing email as spam without you knowing it. But your branding in their Encyro account, would stay on their free account's front page and they will see if each time they send secure documents for insurance, refinance, or tax prep.
Your Customers Want It Already
The New York Times reports that encrypted email services have already seen up to 400% more sign ups in 2017 than in 2016. And it is not surprising.
Johanna Amann, PhD, working at University of California Berkeley, says
"most of our communication is poorly secured" because "secure configuration is not straight-forward and many combinations of encryption and authentication mechanisms lead to insecure deployments"
based on an investigation of large email providers, with her co-investigators from University of Sydney and Technical University of Munich, presented at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium 2016.
Obviously, people are becoming aware of the risks and this is not an opportunity to be missed.
Robert Siciliano, Personal Security and Identity Theft Expert, and CEO of IDTheftSecurity, says
"No matter what type of real estate transaction is taking place, agents should be hyperattentive to exactly what information is being exchanged" and "it can be easy to forget that these reams of paper contain very personal information about your clients, and that many eyes might have a chance to see that information. Make sure you lock it up, encrypt it or password-protect it."
This is not a risk that smart realtors can ignore anymore.
You could stay with free membership after the trial, which is more secure and easier to use than other encrypted email services but does not include the feature to add your brand logo and photo. Should you decide to continue the full featured membership, the listed price after trial is only $9.99/mo. But you may not actually have to pay that price since a discounted price is offered after you sign up for the trial.
Act Now. The discounts are not listed on the website since only a limited number is available. The early bird does get the worm in this case.
Cancel Anytime. The trial does not even require committing a credit card, and it does not send you a bill if you forget to cancel it, because it automatically switches to free membership unless you decide to buy. Even if you do purchase, membership can be cancelled anytime for a full refund of unused time.
No risk, all reward
While there is no risk in trying the protection, there is a very real risk if you leave your business unprotected. Data from US Department of Justice shows that 17.6 million Americans suffered identity theft in 2014. The Federal Trade Commission reports that ID theft attacks grow by over 47% every year.
Waiting until one of your transactions is hit would be too late.
Remember, buying a burglar alarm after a burglary does not help. They will not attack with an advanced notice. You cannot hide your customer data under your pillow or in your mattress.
Every email attachment you receive from your client or send their way is increasing your risk. Not only do you risk everything you have worked so hard to build up, but also the additional closings that will go to your competition. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton omitted securing her email and that might have cost her the presidency.
On your road to wealth...
The wealthy and smart business owners build layers of protection to protect their biggest assets. They put the protection in place even before an asset builds up. As a real estate agent, if your business is one of your biggest assets, then protecting it only makes sense. Especially when protection is free of cost, super easy to use, and helps grow your brand (try it now).