There are many risks in running a business, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Anything could happen. Take for example, what happened at CoesterVMS. An appraiser at the company had his private email hacked by his own boss, Brian Coester himself. To avoid situations like this and more, we’ve put together some helpful tips for you to follow to keep your appraisal business safe. 

Cyber Security

One of the first things you should always do with your computer is invest in security software. This will act as an “blanket” security, protecting against hackers, malware, and other viruses. You can also get a password protector, which will help keep your passwords safe in case of hacking, preventing them from accessing important information. Using a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a safe connection over a less-secure network, like public wifi, to connect to remote sites. For example, you can use a VPN to surf the web in the UK even though you’re physically in the United States.  It’s important to be mindful of your internet surfing habits as well; try to avoid sites that are not secure, lack a “terms of use”, have an excessive amount of ads or broken links and more. Lastly, an important skem to do is to be aware of and not falling for phishing scams. These scams can be sent to you or your clients to either capture info to hack your business or could lead to wiring fraud and become a huge money loss for your client and yourself.

Professional Insurance (E&O)

Something you should already have as an appraiser is E&O insurance. If you were to erroneously appraise a home, this kind of insurance can save you a lot of financial hassle if the client decides to take legal action. Don’t just protect your business, protect your professional integrity!

Office Security

Something else to think about is physical security. No, not necessarily a buff security guard, but having a security system in place at your office. This could include the kind of lock system used built in or added to your space, security cameras on the inside and outside of your workplace, or securing important physical documents in a designated safe or locked storage. This could also mean acquiring insurance. Does your business have an insurance policy in place in the event of a break in? It doesn’t matter if it’s your home or a business space you rent out–make sure you have all of your physical work items protected. 

Additional Tips

  1. NEVER reuse passwords. Every password you use should be unique and hard to guess for a hacker.
  2. Write up a protocol and guidelines for your business!
  3. Update security software and passwords every 4-6 months or so, especially if you get a security alert or breach.
  4. Maintain alarms and security systems. Do regular checks every couple of months to be safe. 
  5. Never open emails or click on links from suspicious or untrustworthy sources. Delete them immediately! 

You may be thinking to yourself: “This is going to take a lot of effort!” You’re not wrong, it will. However, making sure you are well protected for the “just in case” or “what if’s” is only going to help you. Whether it’s as simple as a security alarm going off, to a claim made against your appraisal, to someone stealing private information from your accounts, it’s best to be prepared for all of them.