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Giving out your phone number could give out way more than you think

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) As a real estate agent, its tempting to give out your number to whoever asks for it. But be cautious of what exactly you’re giving out.

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Friendly reminder

You do not need to share your cell phone number with everyone.

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This sounds like a simple statement, but with the abundance of accounts and reliance on technology for pure convenience, most people freely give away their personal numbers without considering the consequences.

An extension of yourself

As the dependency on smartphones has increased, privacy standards have decreased.

Using a phone number to unlock an account or shop online is so common that many people don’t think twice before typing it in.

Even if this nonchalant attitude has never led to anything detrimental, there is always the possibility of your account being hacked. Having your phone number attached to this account will only make everything worse. For example, if a hacker finds their way into a Macy’s database, they can use the phone numbers tied to member accounts to access other information.

By simply knowing your cell phone number, all the accounts associated with it are jeopardized.

Think of how many times you have been asked for your cell phone number. Of course, disregard the interested strangers, family and friends and you’ll find that this sharing still occurs multiple times throughout the week. Email and social media pages may ask for it to verify your account. Retailers may ask for it for marketing purposes.

Bank accounts, rewards programs, and even ordering a pizza requires you to share your number.

Keep it secret, keep it safe

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent hackers from stealing your information.

The first thing is simple, don’t share your phone number with everyone. Just because a customer service representative or online form asks for your number does not mean that it is required. You can deny their request if it is not mandatory. Second, don’t open links sent via text from numbers you do not recognize. Sending these links is a common way hackers use phone numbers to access other information.

You can also have a separate phone number for personal use to limit contact from spammers and unknown callers.

Never be afraid to ask questions when it comes to your privacy. Though freely sharing personal information is the norm these days, it does not mean that you have to participate.

#beselective

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

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Real Estate Technology

KRACK is the wifi vulnerability Y2K wishes it was

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) It was recently discovered that there is a vulnerability in all wifi networks, know how to keep your information from slipping through the KRACK!

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A security researcher has discovered a new vulnerability that affects literally all WiFi networks – and now that they know about it, it won’t be long before hackers know about it too.

The vulnerability, discovered by security researcher Mathy Vanhoef, lies within the WPA2 encryption used by all WiFi devices and routers. It’s called KRACK, which stands for Key Reinstallation Attacks.

By taking advantage of KRACKs, a hacker can snatch up data that we previously thought was encrypted and totally safe, including credit card numbers, passwords, messages in chat and email, and photographs. A hacker could even hack into your devices with cameras and get a live stream into your home.

They can also inject ransomware or malware into your device.

Security experts are urging all device makers and internet service providers (ISPs) to release updates to patch over KRACKs as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are a few suggestions for how you can protect yourself.

First of all, make sure all of your devices and routers are updated, and turn on auto-updates so that if any new KRACK patches come in, you’ll be sure to get them right away. If you got a router from your ISP, you should call them and bother them until they release a security patch for KRACKs.

In the meantime, use your router’s user guide to find the administrative options and make sure everything is up to date and that you have the strongest privacy settings selected.

If your ISP is slow to respond, you might consider using an Ethernet cable to connect to the Internet, since KRACKs are only a problem with WiFi networks.

You can also disable WiFi on your smartphone and use your cellular data instead – although this could get expensive if you pay extra for cellular. You should also pull you Internet of Things devices, especially ones with cameras and assistants like Alexa, off of WiFi until your ISP has a KRACK patch.

It also helps to access the web through encrypted websites whenever possible.

Many sites offer either unencrypted access (HTTP) or encrypted access (HTTPS). You can download an extension called HTTPS Everywhere that tells your browser to automatically use encrypted access whenever available.

It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Lastly, be aware that Android devices 6.0 or later are more vulnerable to KRACKs attacks than other devices. Good luck, and keep your information from slipping through the KRACKs!

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Real Estate Technology

Dot coms are on their way out when it comes to Realtors’ sites

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) NAR is making moves to secure their Realtors sites with .Realtor and .realestate authentications.

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The National Association of Realtors (NAR), the governing body of American realtors, has offered the .REALTOR domain to those who are members and has extended its initial kick off program until 2018.

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Currently, members of NAR can acquire a .REALTOR for one free year, as well as branded domain email and website creation. After the first year, REALTORS will pay $39.95 for their domain. NAR is also working on acquiring the domain .realestate for those in its membership as well.

Pile on the pros

This change can affect the online presence of a realtor in many number of ways. Because the .realtor domain is strictly policed by NAR and top level domain (TLD) registration group Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), this allows for a certain amount of trust and credibility to be made with a future customer. Due to the NAR’s deal with ICANN, those who use .REALTOR has that his or her domain registration tied to their National Realtors Database System (NRDS) ID number.

NAR states that this process is similar to the verification process for a .gov or .edu address.

Another reason for the decision to layers of around the strict TLD verification is the protection of the NAR brand, as well as the word realtor. Laypeople frequently confuse the terms “realtor” and “real estate agent,” unaware of the fact that only a member of the NAR is officially a realtor, and licensed non members who sell property are actually real estate agents.

In 2015, .REALTOR was the fastest growing TLD that had authentic websites, i.e. not domains bought for the purpose of scalping.

The NAR is also the largest trade association in the United States, with 1.2 million members. The TLD process for the NAR made history by being the first brand using this type of verification that was previously only afforded to governmental bodies and educational institutions.

Added security

The internet is a vast superhighway of changing parts, and the modification of TLD is a selling point for enhancing a brand.

NAR is offering a service by allowing the TLD to be another source of credibility for its members, a perk few other trade organizations can match.

#DOTrealtor

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Real Estate Technology

Are your phone settings giving hackers a free pass to your life?

(TECHNOLOGY NEWS) If you are one to leave your bluetooth on 24/7 you might want to rethink. Doing so leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of hackers.

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Bluetooth connectivity

Bluetooth is meant to keep you connected. By enabling it, your devices can sync up to one another without even being prompted. However, in this case, what is easier for you is typically also easier for hackers.

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Hackers are incessant and if they want to, can find a way in. But that doesn’t mean that you should hand them an all access pass.

Peace out privacy

With every technological advance, comes some relinquishment of privacy. When you use social media to share your experiences, it’s an open invitation for the world to know where you live, who you’re friends with and what you do.

Newsletters and email accounts require you to share personal information just to use their services.

Bluetooth is no different. Researchers from the group Armis have discovered a way for hackers to infiltrate your devices simply by having Bluetooth enabled.

They call it borne, Blueborne

No, Blueborne is not exactly like James Bond, but it does have the power to mysteriously infiltrate your devices. Researchers found that it takes less than 10 seconds for hackers to gain access to your devices through Blueborne.

You don’t even need to be using Bluetooth.

All it takes is for it to be on. Blueborne scans surroundings to find devices with Bluetooth enabled, and then is used to hack into such devises. From there, hackers gain control over the device and can steal data. Once one device is hacked, it can spread to another device, giving hackers the chance to access multiple devices without increasing their distance.

Prevent hackers

Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel, iPhones, iPads, car audio systems as well as Android and Microsoft products are all vulnerable to a Bluetooth cyberattack. One line of defense is to make sure that devices are updated.

Last week, Google and Microsoft created security patches so that owner can update and secure their devices.

Just don’t do it

However, if there is one take away from the discovery of Blueborne it is this: don’t keep your Bluetooth on. Think of Bluetooth the same way as you think of locking your car. It’s obvious that not locking your car makes it easier for people to steal it. The same goes with Bluetooth.

The best way to prevent a cyberattack is to be aware of when Bluetooth is enabled, and to make sure it is off when not in use.

#BlueBorne

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