Data Privacy Solutions for Virtual House Tours

Have you recently sold or bought a piece of property? If so, you likely know a little bit about how the real estate market is working these days. For the most part, the market is still working the same as it has in the past. A real estate agent provides you with a list of properties, you choose the one you want, the negotiations begin, and then finally you visit the property in-person to see if it is in fact what you are looking for or not. While there are some differences here and there in between, this is the basic gist of buying a home. Well, it used to be until COVID hit.

It goes without saying that COVID has impacted the market, as it has impacted everything that it has come into contact with. That being said, the major shocker here is that the pandemic has impacted the market differently than most people would imagine. Most people would think that because of increased interest rates, rising unemployment rates, and a cutback on hours that most people aren’t buying homes. This is true and no doubt affecting the market, but the biggest reason that people are not buying homes these days is because of social distancing.

How Real Estate Agents Are Combating Social Distancing

That’s right, consumers are afraid to visit home in-person, speak with agents, transfer money, and do the other things in person that are necessary for buying a home. A lot of real estate agencies started combating these very issues with a number of unique responses. Of these responses, it was the virtual home touring that got the biggest response. Potential buyers can now take virtual tours of the homes and properties that they are interested in buying. This has been a real game-changer for the real estate market and it’s helping agents and firms all around the world to continue selling and growing their businesses. However, it is also creating some unique problems as well.

Data Leaks in The VR Industry

Whether you are interested in virtually touring a condo, a business property, or a residential home, you have to be aware of the fact that there are privacy risks with virtual reality. This is something that became evident a few months ago when a virtual reality gamer realized that he couldn’t get insurance coverage despite his perfect health.

This individual in particular had purchased a virtual gaming reality headset. The game was set up in his living room in a similar manner that these systems are set up during a virtual tour. He had been physically walking around his living room solving puzzles and interacting with his friends for months without even knowing that his privacy was being exploited.

What the buyer of this headset didn’t know was that the creators of this game had already decided to sell its user’s tracking data. A simple 20-minute VR game session ended up recording 2 million points of data about his body movements. What’s even more interesting is that it was local insurance companies that were buying this type of information. It turns out that despite his perfect health, he displayed body movement of someone that might potentially develop dementia later on in life.

It sounds crazy and it is, but real estate companies and VR creators can use virtual home tours in the same way. And, this is why it is more than pertinent to know and understand the data privacy solutions available to you when taking advantage of what seems like a harmless technology. Virtual and augmented reality biometric tracking data along with tracking micro-movements of the head, torso, hands, and eyes can reveal a lot about an individual, but this is not the only area where VR can be potentially dangerous. There are tons of potentials for data breaches.

Protecting Yourself From VR

As fascinating as privacy breaches in VR might sound from a cybersecurity point of view, the truth of the matter is, it’s a truly frightening situation. Luckily, there are ways that you can protect your data when you are partaking in virtual reality. Whether it be a video game or a virtual home tour, you can make sure you are always safe by implementing the following tips and tricks.

Not Disclosing Personal Information

During the home buying process, you will have to reveal your personal and banking information at some point. However, there is nothing that says you have to do this while you are hook into VR. In fact, you should not reveal any personal information when you are hooked into the VR headset. It’s simply not needed and if someone asks while you have a headset on, it should raise immediate flags.

Stay on Top of Privacy Policies

It is likely that you’ll have to sign some kind of privacy policy before taking a VR home tour. If you are like most people, you’ll just end up skipping right to the end and signing the back sheet. Well, this could be a major mistake because it could give the wrong people access to some of your most sensitive information. It’s not even like they are stealing your information. Rather, you are just giving it to them. Always make sure you are taking the time to review such contracts and agreements before signing.

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