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Cathy Sloan, Real Estate Pro in Jacksonville, FL

Agents are you using Wi Fi hot spots more often?

Asked by Cathy Sloan, Jacksonville, FL Thu Aug 11, 2011

I get lots of calls when I'm driving. I find I pull into the nearest McDonalds , Starbucks, Hotel, etc parking lot a and log in and return the client's call and Take care of Business.

Today I see an article in Realtor.Mag:

Connecting to the Internet over Wi-Fi hot spots in public areas, such as cafes or hotels, may be risky if you’re sending sensitive information over an unsecured network. Cybercriminals can conduct electronic eavesdropping, known as “sniffing,” by tapping into your information via public Wi-Fi hotspots and downloading or storing it for review later. Nothing I send is "Sensitive" But does anyone know if crooks can gain access to anything else while I'm looking up MLS data & sending e-mail and texting clients.

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To me it really doesn't matter, if a hacker wants information they will get it. Most of the information I share over the internet isn't really privacy sensetive. It is however very convient to use and makes you look like a better agent because you can respond to clients faster. As long as your not sending ss#s or account numbers you should be fine.
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 11, 2011
Cathy:

I do use the Starbucks® Internet from time to time. I find that to be convenient and gives me a chance to relax and unwind too. So far, I believe that my information and security has not been compromised.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 14, 2011
I usually have no need and if I do I use my phone. If I need to use the laptop I can create a more secure hotspot from it. I really don't worry about it. I have been "hacked" by someone that used the information to access my mypay account. They did that off of the information on my public websites - like email addresses and names. I learned that my passwords are the most important item and now use a variety that are so difficult I have to look them up on my cheat sheet.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 14, 2011
Yes we use them~

Primarily with out with buyers, we will stop at McDonalds or Starbucks and look up property information. It is searching only, we also carry a small printer so we can print out reports, do contracts, etc.

Debbie Albert, PA
Keller Williams Realty of the Treasure Coast
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 12, 2011
This is an incredibly important question. The straight and honest answer is Internet Security is an illusion.
As the temptation to migrate more resources to cloud computing beckons, the risk increases. Even closed systems have incredibly difficult issues with maintaining security. You and I, are sitting ducks.

The good news is....We are small fish....at this time.

We are more vulnerable to hand scanned credit cards than internet snooping. Yep, that's right, the wait person walking out of sight with your credit card is a much bigger immediate threat. If security is of concern, use the built in encryption capability of your computer. A Jr High geek can find the decryption key but the security is simply in the inconvenience of the extra effort. Internet security is an illusion. The only defense we have is schooling. No, not that kind of schooling This schooling refers to all those little fishes in the ocean, they cluster together and swarm making the individual fishy a difficult target.

What are the choices? Direct calls? As one of my recent blogs highlighted, cell phone are not secure. Land lines? Yikes, I don't even have one of those! There are NO sure-fire solutions....and.....we really have no choice, in this business, but to take the risk.

Next time you are in a hot spot environment, have your computer scan for new connections. Note the 'Security Type' displayed for those 'secure or password protected' servers. Using simply that particle of information you are but one download away from the unlocking the server.
(PS: and if our computer, motherboard or CPU was manufactured in China, you can be confident there is a little surprise waiting to jump into action when called. But we really love those $400 laptops!

To be honest, I don't want to see what's happening behind the curtain. Truly knowing the risk would compel implementing secure methods which are incompatible with the 'instant access' we have all bought into.
At this moment security is are ability to "Swim like little fishes."
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 12, 2011
Yes, and it does have some risk, but so does carrying "sensitive" materials in your car. It gets stolen, somebody else may now have a SSN or EM check . . . you know what's really wack from a security standpoint? Couriers. I remember in NYC, bike couriers, making $18/hr going into a record store between stops, leaving a couple of million dollars in documents with the "security station."

In theory, yes - they can hack our phones and probably download viruses into our home and office computers. In practice? Well, it will happen to one of us, sometime. To what end, I have no idea!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 11, 2011
Cathy,

NEFAR may not be compatible with phones - it is not a question of 3G or 4G. If I need to login to NEFAR while I'm out I use my hot spot and my Netbook not my phone. Someday NEFAR will work with mobile devices but I have not heard any dates. We should ask them.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 11, 2011
If you pull over that much then it is worth the cost. There are so many avenues to take regarding this I would go in and talk to your phone co on best options. It is also very inexpensive in install hands free in your car, I added one for my daughter than connects to the mirror and she loves it. Just a thought.

Kindest Regards,
Dianne Hicks
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 14, 2011
Thank you all.

It does not appear any of us have experienced any great security breach from our public Wi-FI habits.

Everyone has given some really good answers that are food for thought. I'm not very Tech savvy. Maybe if I do not keep secure data on my everyday moble computers and don't do banking, security will not be an issue. Actually AT&T told me not to do banking on my I-phone or I-pad.

I use my Smart phone the most. When out viewing property with clients it's very helpful to use the Trulia app or the Realtor.com app to quickly get the price and data on properties near the home we are viewing. It seems a Buyer will always ask "what about that home, why aren't we looking at it today? A quick search on my smart phone and I can tell them its only a 3BR or the price is $50K more. If they want to see the home, usually the listing agent data is available. It makes me much more efficient.

I like having my e-mail accessible throughout the day. I also receive leads from my website, Trulia, & Realtor.com via Text on my smart phone.

My lap top is large, heavy and bulky I stopped carying it way before I bought a net book. The netbook works well in hot spots. I like the size and weight of it. It is less expensive that a Tablet or I-pad. I was content using my netbook the past few years.

My family gave me an IPAD2 in July. I absolutely love it. It's like having a big IPhone. Weighs even less than my netbook. If we stop anywhere near free Wi-FI, I can access our local MLS and retrieve additional data on homes. If I am waiting for someone, I can easily answer e-mail (bigger keyboard). I can use it like my kindle to ead a book or play a game. What is really great, it will easily fit in my handbag. I carry it constantly since I received it.

Once you are a certain age you really appreciate the larger letters and numbers. It's much easier to read than my I-phone.

I was a bit disappointed to find that when not in a Hot Spot, I connect to the net using 3G or 4G and not all applications, such as our local MLS, can be used with 3G or 4G. Without investigation, I assumed I could access MLS when not in a hot spot. That is not so. I understand our MLS is working on the capability of modifying our system to work on smart phones, Tablets and I-pad. Maybe in the future.

I have found that the I-Pad can be used easily in a listing presentation. But so can my Netbook. IThe client gets a little more Wow from the I-Pad, if that counts for anything.

I am exploring adding additional security to both my netbook and IPad. I am also going to make my passwords that I use on programs I use from my moble computers more challenging.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Aug 14, 2011
Most phones are now their own Wi Fi for your laptops and ipads etc so for me it is rarity unless I want to download a massive amount of stuff. ATT charges after using 2Gs of downloading on the Ipad.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 13, 2011
I am very glad that you asked this question because I have been contemplating on whether I should just get the laptop wireless card or meet clients at a local hotspot. By reading the responses, I am learning that it really depends on what type of information I will be accessing. Thanks so much for the questions and answers!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 13, 2011
Rarely do I need to use Wifi hotspots, since my smart phone does almost anything.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Aug 13, 2011
I have my own Mi-FI that that is good for at least 2 hours of heavy usage. It needs a password to access, So I am fairly confident I'm the only one connectted. It give me piece of mind knowing I'll always have access if i need it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 12, 2011
Mark

I too, have 3G/4G but Our local MLS is not 3G compliant and I must connect to Wi-FI. I can't log into NEFMLS or At. Augustine MLS using 3G. Can you?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 11, 2011
My understanding is if you are using a public hot spot it is not as secure as if you had a personal one like
the Verizon mobile hot spot that I carry. You can get a 3G version or a 4G version.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 11, 2011
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