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Technology and the digital world provides many advantages to letting and estate agents, but this comes with serious additional risk, and it is essential to ensure that your business is prepared.

A data breach could occur in all sorts of different instances, and therefore it is essential to understand what the specific areas of exposure are, and what the potential consequences could be for your business. This could be in the form of being deceived online, through straightforward human error or by your company’s systems being hacked.

There are many simple instances of data and cyber crime which businesses and individuals regularly fall victim to. For example, you could settle an invoice for services or goods for your business which is in reality a fraudulent email from a scammer or criminal gang instead of your usual supplier.

You or a member of your staff could follow what initially appears as a genuine and legitimate website link, but instead, you find that your computer systems are infected by ransomware or malware. An even simpler mistake could be that important information concerning a customer is accidentally sent to an incorrect email address, which in turn leads to a data protection breach.

The first question to ask your business is if it could operate without technology and IT. This could prove impossible, as software solutions, such as those designed by inventorybase, can prove crucial in helping property businesses to run effectively and efficiently.

What would also be the worst case or likely scenario if the data from your business, including banking information, was misused, stolen or lost? And what would happen if your web and IT systems suffered a hack or virus attack? What could be the impact on the reputation of your company if your business fell victim to data or cyber crime?

There are many ways that could potentially lower the risk of a data or cyber incident taking place at your business. Firstly, ensure that there are strong security solutions, such as a firewall and anti-virus software, installed on your computers. Make sure that the software you have implemented is always kept updated, which means that you always have the current software versions that contain fixes for bugs and weaknesses.

Secondly, come up with a structured password policy, and ensure that everyone in the workplace follows these guidelines. Many businesses across different industries find it useful to prompt staff to update and change their passwords on a frequent basis. This helps to reduce the risk of a data breach from weak passwords, or passwords which are used for many sites, which lowers their protective qualities.

It is also good practice to implement policies for mobile devices, internet and emails for business use for your staff, to reduce the likelihood of data breaches taking place. Providing regular training for employees on effective cyber security measures also helps ensure they remain aware of how scams operate, and how to remain safe online.

Ensure that you conduct frequent risk assessments on cyber security on a regular basis, as well as monitoring security on the computers and mobile devices at your place of work.

Make sure that your staff take care of and respect the security of the hardware you provide, such as mobile devices, tablets and laptops. Ensure that members of staff are also aware of policies that you implement for the security of that hardware, such as never leaving them unattended in public, for example in a restaurant or bar, and never leaving them in their cars.

It is also best practice that your staff back up data regularly, and that you complete this on a regular basis for all your company’s computer systems.

You should also invest in an insurance policy for cyber crime at your business, which will effectively deal with any incidents, in order to minimise the effect of a breach on your business.