viaForensics CEO and co-founder Andrew Hoog recently wrote in (Realty Times) about mobile security threats in the real-estate industry and what can be done to mitigate them. It’s of growing concern as smartphones and tablets have become an indispensible tool for many realtors as well as their clients. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine when researching properties, while 68% of them utilize other apps as part of their house hunting process.
Accordingly, many real-estate companies have been creating their own apps as a way to both reach customers and give their workforce the flexibility and mobility they need to compete.
But as Hoog points out in the article, with the increasing use of mobile devices in the real-estate industry, there is a heightened risk of data breaches that can cause wholesale disruption of an organization’s ability to function. And while security professionals have largely been focused on combating malware, there’s good evidence that the greater threat to real-estate enterprises comes from another source altogether – leaky apps.
“We recently examined 100 popular apps in a variety of categories, testing them for man-in-the-middle and SSL attack vulnerabilities, whether they stored passwords and other sensitive data in their memory, and other common security concerns,” writes Hoog. “Our study found that 60% of apps received a”High” risk rating in one or more categories. None of these were apps anyone would normally consider dangerous or risky – typically even their creators were unaware of the vulnerabilities built in to their apps. “
He goes on to write that consumers are usually unaware of the kinds of security risks a given app might present, and without a watchdog body to help make them more cognizant of app vulnerabilities, there is little pressure on developers to begin making apps more secure anytime soon.
This presents a special danger to those in the real-estate business, as realtors, property managers, brokers, title agents, developers and appraisers might have large amounts of sensitive third-party information on their devices, making them a rich target for attackers. One unsecured app on a single realtor’s device could act as a gateway to loss of company data, loss of sensitive customer financial information, loss of customer trust, violation of regulatory statutes, and ultimately, loss of revenue.
So how should realtors protect themselves and their organizations from data loss?
“The real key is visibility,” advises Hoog. “You need to know how sensitive information is being stored and accessed, and where it is being sent. You need to be able look for patterns of behavior and anomalies that may indicate suspicious activity. “
viaProtect was created to give both everyday consumers and IT security professionals just such visibility, offering real-time, actionable intelligence about a mobile device’s risk behaviors, potential data leaks, and more.
Using on-device sensors on both iOS and Android phones and tablets, viaProtect can tell you what countries and organizations your device is communicating with and whether your traffic is encrypted. It provides an aggregated risk rating that allows you to assess your security at a glance, and can tell you what apps might be putting your data at risk, allowing you to make more informed decisions about what apps you keep installed on your device.
How to Get viaProtect
If you’re interested in learning about what is going on in your device behind the screen, download viaProtect and give it a try.