Why Real Estate Needs to Take Cyber Security Seriously
June 16, 2023, 6 min read
Taking into account the facts, maintaining adequate levels of cyber security has developed into a vital component of any firm, including the real estate sector. Because real estate transactions are becoming more dependent on technology, organizations working in the field are facing a growing number of cyber security threats. This is a genuine problem for these businesses. Cybersecurity needs to be a top priority for real estate organisations in order to safeguard their data and maintain the trust of their customers.
In this article, we will discuss the growing danger that cyber attacks pose to the real estate industry, the different types of cyber attacks that real estate companies should be aware of, the susceptibility of real estate companies to phishing and social engineering attacks, the significance of providing employees with training and education in cyber security for real estate companies, as well as the requirement that real estate companies implement multi-factor authentication and other security measures.
The Growing Threat of Cyber Attacks on the Real Estate Industry
Because of the significant sums of money that are involved in transactions within the real estate market, cybercriminals view this sector as an appealing target. The sharing of sensitive information, such as personal and financial information, is required in real estate transactions. This information can be put to use in fraudulent activities if it is not protected.
Phishing, spyware, ransomware, and social engineering assaults are just some of the methods that cybercriminals might employ to obtain access to this information and utilise it for their own gain. When a cyber attack is effective, it can result in the loss of confidential data, as well as financial losses and reputational damage.
From 2015 to 2017, the real estate business suffered an increase in the number of reported cases of cybercrime that was 1,100% higher than the previous year, as stated in a report published by the Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3) of the FBI. According to the findings of the report, business email compromise (BEC) and email account compromise (EAC) were the types of cybercrime that were reported the most frequently in the real estate industry.
Phishing emails are used in BEC and EAC assaults to deceive employees into revealing their login credentials, which then enables attackers to access email accounts. When cybercriminals get access to an email account, they have the ability to monitor email correspondence and intercept wire transactions, both of which can result in severe financial losses.
The Types of Cyber Attacks that Real Estate Companies Should Be Aware of
Real estate companies should be aware of the different types of cyber attacks and take measures to protect themselves. The following are some of the most common types of cyber attacks that real estate companies should be aware of:
- 1- Phishing: Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves the use of fraudulent emails or messages to trick users into providing sensitive information. Phishing emails can appear to come from legitimate sources, such as banks or real estate firms, and can be difficult to detect.
- 2- Malware: Malware is a type of software that is designed to damage or disrupt computer systems. Malware can be installed on a computer through email attachments or downloads from the internet.
- 3- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on a computer system, rendering them inaccessible. Cybercriminals demand payment in exchange for the decryption key.
- 4- Business email compromise (BEC): BEC attacks involve the use of phishing emails to trick employees into providing login credentials, allowing cybercriminals to gain access to email accounts. Once the cybercriminals have access to an email account, they can monitor email correspondence and intercept wire transfers, resulting in significant financial losses.
- 5- Distributed denial of service (DDoS): DDoS attacks involve the use of multiple computers to flood a targeted system with traffic, resulting in a denial of service. DDoS attacks can disrupt the availability of a real estate company’s website or other systems.
The Vulnerability of Real estate Companies to Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks
Phishing and other forms of social engineering are two of the most common types of cyber threats that real estate organisations have to contend with. These assaults can be difficult to detect, and they can lead to substantial financial losses if they are successful. Because of the extensive amount of sensitive information that is involved in transactions and the intricate nature of the real estate market, real estate businesses are susceptible to these types of assaults.
Emails that look to have been sent from a reliable source are frequently used in spear phishing attacks, which are directed at employees of real estate organisations. It’s possible that the emails will contain a link or an attachment that, when clicked on, will either install malware on the employee’s computer or request them to input their login credentials. After gaining access to an email account, fraudsters are able to monitor the employee’s email correspondence and even send false emails that look to come from the employee.
The manipulation of human behavior to gain access to confidential information is what “social engineering” attacks are all about. Cybercriminals can impersonate a reliable person or someone in a position of authority and use social engineering techniques to trick employees into divulging important information. For instance, a cybercriminal may assume the identity of a potential real estate buyer and ask for private information to carry out a transaction.
The Importance of Employee Training and Education in Cyber Security for Real Estate Companies
Education and training of staff members is one of the most important preventative measures against cyber assaults in the real estate industry. Employees have a responsibility to educate themselves about the dangers posed by cyber assaults as well as the preventative measures they may take.The following subjects ought to be covered throughout training:
- Education: employees need to be educated on how to identify phishing emails and how to report them to their company’s IT department. This training should be provided to employees.
- Password Protection: Employees need to be made aware of the significance of developing robust passwords and routinely switching them up. This can be accomplished through education.
- Internet safety protocols: Employers should provide their workers with training on internet safety protocols, including the need of not clicking on suspicious links or downloading unidentified software.
- Mobile Security: Employees should be taught on how to safeguard their mobile devices, including how to enable passcodes and encrypt data on their mobile devices.
- Incident reporting: Employers should make it clear to their staff that they expect any suspicious behaviour or occurrences to be reported to the IT department.
The Need for Real Estate Companies to Implement Multi-factor Authentication and other Security Measures
Real estate businesses are required to protect their data by using multi-factor authentication in addition to other security measures, as well as providing training and education for their employees. Before gaining access to a system, users who utilise multi-factor authentication are required to present two or more forms of identity. This makes it far more difficult for cybercriminals to access the system. The following kind of security precautions should also be implemented by real estate companies:
- Encryption: Encryption is the process of converting sensitive information into code so that it cannot be viewed or accessed by unauthorised parties.
- Firewalls: Firewalls are a sort of security software or hardware that may be installed on a computer to prevent unauthorised users from accessing the system.
- Anti-virus software: Anti-virus software is a type of software that scans a computer system for malicious software and then deletes it if it is found.
- Systems for backup and recovery: Systems for backup and recovery can assist real estate organisations recover from a cyber attack by returning data to a state it was in before the assault occurred.
To summarise, the importance of cyber security cannot be overstated in the real estate market. It is imperative for real estate businesses to be aware of the various forms of cyber attacks they could be subjected to, such as phishing and social engineering, and to take precautions to protect not just their own data but also the faith of their customers. Training and education for employees, multi-factor authentication, and other security measures are all things that can assist avoid cyber attacks and lessen the damage they do. Real estate businesses have the ability to protect their clients’ trust while also preserving the integrity of their own data stores if they make cyber security a top priority.