Cybercriminals target companies in every industry, and real estate is no exception. Real estate firms like yours must learn to recognize and defend against the latest cyberthreats. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but by following our tips in this post, you'll significantly lower your risk of costly, time-consuming data breaches.
Why do cybercriminals attack real estate firms?
Cybercriminals often target the real estate industry because organizations in this field have access to valuable information, such as bank account numbers, loan information, and the personal details of property owners and buyers. When threat actors get ahold of these data, they can exploit them for identity theft and other crimes.
Cybercriminals often target the real estate industry because organizations in this field have access to valuable information.
How do hackers infiltrate real estate firms?
Here are the top three ways cybercriminals attack real estate organizations:
Business email compromise (BEC)
By using a compromised email account, a cybercriminal can pose as the account holder and appear to be a legitimate contact. They can then trick real estate agents, office staff, clients, and third-party partners into revealing sensitive information such as bank account details.
Cybercriminals may create fraudulent emails, text messages, online ads, landing pages, and websites to scam their targets. When people interact with these, they may unwittingly unleash malware onto their systems or share login details that would grant hackers access to company accounts. Once they take over someone's account, they can lock the account owner out, abuse access privileges, and use that account to scam more people.
Ransomware is malware that encrypts the victim's data and renders it unusable until the victim pays the cybercriminal's ransom demands. This means that ransomware can lock real estate firms out of their client directories, property listings, and other crucial data they need to conduct business.
Learn more about ransomware and how you can guard your firm against it by going to www.cisa.gov/stopransomware
What can real estate firms do to protect themselves?
Thankfully, firms like yours are not under the complete mercy of cybercriminals. Here are ways you can protect your business from malicious hackers:
Complete a cybersecurity audit
A cybersecurity audit assesses your firm’s cybersecurity posture. The audit identifies the solutions you are currently using and reveals vulnerabilities you need to address. While a cybersecurity audit can be done internally, it's more beneficial to have an external auditor do it for you. The latter will likely be less biased and have more cybersecurity expertise to boot.
Find and implement the security solutions that best fit your firm
Once the cybersecurity audit shows the risks you are exposed to, you need to implement the right defenses and processes. As much as possible, implement the things that synergize well with your existing solutions. For example, if you're only using basic corporate firewalls, you may consider ramping up security with intrusion prevention systems and network behavior analysis. You'll have to be strategic because you don't want your security solutions to be more expensive than the data breach costs you're trying to avoid.
Fulfill data breach notification protocols
While there aren't any data regulations that are specific to the real estate industry as of this writing, the SEC is proposing new data breach regulations for public companies. If approved, publicly traded real estate firms must comply with the new rules, such as having to report data breaches and other cybersecurity incidents within four days of becoming aware of such incidents. Complying with these notification requirements will not only help you avoid legal trouble, but it demonstrates your integrity to your clients.
Implement a cybersecurity awareness training program
A cybersecurity awareness training program will teach you and your staff how to recognize cyberthreats, such as phishing attempts and suspicious email attachments. Everyone will better understand the dangers these threats pose to your business, and how to proceed if one presents itself. Since cyberthreats and your IT infrastructure change over time, it's critical that you keep your awareness program up to date and that everyone is continually retrained.
Further reading: 7 Tips for effective employee security awareness training
Real estate is a field that's totally unrelated to cybersecurity, which is why it's best for real estate firms like yours to partner up with a reliable managed IT services provider like SpectrumWise. . Schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation with our IT experts today.