We rely on technology in real estate today more than ever. But it seems we often take it for granted. Until we read the headlines, that is, and are reminded that with powerful technology comes the need for caution, care, and responsibility to protect our clients and our own livelihood.
Did you know that nearly 30,000 websites are infected with malware every day? Target got hacked, and 70 million customers were affected. Over the last five years, 27 million Americans have faced identity theft. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to the FBI, as Cyber Crime has become commonplace and it’s growing.
In fact, the FBI now has specially trained “cyber squads” at its headquarters and in each of its 56 field offices nationwide. They have even established new “Cyber Action Teams” that at a moment’s notice will travel to just about anywhere in the world to assist with computer intrusion cases.
That’s why, when dealing with one of the most important financial decisions someone will make in a lifetime – buying a home – every piece of software that touches confidential information must be truly secure. It’s why we built superior-level security into Form Simplicity, one of the most popular Transaction Management tools for real estate agents and brokers, created by Realtors and for Realtors and owned by Florida Realtors®.
Going paperless and reducing risk
Agents need a key go-to technology to help digitize their workflow, which is what Form Simplicity does. Real estate transaction management software simply takes parts of an agent or broker’s job that are seen as time-consuming or repetitive and makes them much easier.
For example, Form Simplicity features auto-populating smart forms that eliminate re-typing or duplicate data entry. When you are writing a contract on paper, you know you will have to write the property details many times. When using digital forms, you input it once, and the information populates on all forms within the transaction. That accuracy means reduced errors.
With secure digital signatures, customers can sign remotely, which can be a huge time saver. And because you need to share information back and forth during negotiations, all of that is taken care of with built-in collaboration tools.
But none of this has any value to an agent – or broker – if the information is not safe and secure. After all, everything that is input into a Transaction Management system is going to be almost always stored on the cloud, and that means security is more important than ever.
Superior-level security with Form Simplicity
Reading the headlines about Russian hackers has to give an agent or broker pause to consider the security of the systems they are using. When Form Simplicity was built, because it was a Realtor-driven technology effort, the issue of security was of paramount importance and the number one priority for data storage. The biggest purchase one makes in their life is nearly always their home, and that means “trust” is the biggest driver in the agent-client relationship. The customer must trust that the information they provide to the agent and broker will be secured.
In the software world, superior–level security means there are strict policies concerning firewalls, passwords and access control around data, and more. If you are a Form Simplicity user, the data you store for your digital transactions are inside which amounts to a highly-secured “vault” for protecting data.
Form Simplicity’s eSign capability adds even more layers of security: Documents are locked and cannot be edited; the system automatically detects tampering efforts and invalidates signed documents if they are altered in any way; documents are tracked by date, time, email address and IP address, and much more. All eSign documents use 256-bit encryption that exceeds government encryption guidelines, with everything hosted in what is called a “SAS70 Type II datacenter with biometric security at the physical access level,” which simply means all data is both virtually and physically safe.
Peace of mind
Sometimes real estate brokers and agents are hesitant to use technology, as they do question how secure their client information will be. In recent years, we have seen some software fail at protecting information, including in the transaction space. It’s also one of the reasons we are so obsessed with security at Form Simplicity. What people care about is knowing that both the agent and broker “have their back,” and why superior-level security really is a vital feature of Form Simplicity. We will continue to improve as technology advances because we want to give agents and brokers peace of mind.