It's no secret that businesses need to be vigilant and on the lookout for cyber security attacks as much, or if not more, than individuals.
But some industries find themselves to be more common or more lucrative targets for certain cyber security threats.
Real estate businesses, for example, may find themselves targeted more by some attacks, due to the nature of their business model and the value of the goods they deal with.
The amount of valuable information transferred between real estate agents and their clients is also extremely enticing to cybercriminals, from personal information and addresses to financial data and passport details.
This information could be used by cyber hackers to gain access to customers' bank accounts, and the relationship of trust that clients have with their real estate agents could be exploited by hackers for financial gain.
With so much data transferred online during real estate sales, and personal information often stored in cloud computing servers, protecting clients' data should be at the forefront of real estate businesses' cyber security strategy.
What are the different cyber security threats to real estate businesses?
Understanding the main sources of cyber threats to the real estate industry is a good place to start when implementing good security practices.
Knowledge really is power, and being aware of the potential threats allows real estate businesses to be prepared for any suspicious activity, as well as keeping customers informed so they too can keep an eye out for scams.
Business Email Compromise BEC
A business email compromise (BEC) is a common threat to real estate companies. This scam works by deceiving the victim into sending/wiring money over to the attacker, with the belief that they are transferring the funds over to a trusted source.
Assuming the identity of one of the real estate employees, the hackers spoof the email style of the real estate business, using their identity to trick the clients into believing they are completing legitimate real estate transactions.
Cybercriminals faking transfers for home purchases will certainly break any trust with real estate clients.
Additionally, if the funds are irretrievable, the real estate business that was due to receive that money incurs a great loss. Alongside a damaged reputation, the true cost of a BEC attack is unimaginable.
To prevent such attacks, ensuring that your emails are secure and encrypted, to avoid an intercepting from hackers, and alerting clients to the possibility of a business email compromise attack are both good starting points to preventing such attacks.
Ransomware involves hackers using malware (malicious software) to enter victims' devices and steal data.
The data is then either encrypted or removed from the device and the victim is then forced to pay the ransom (hence 'ransomware') to gain access to the files, either through an encryption key or physical access.
Ransomware can end up being one of the most directly costly cyber attacks, and also one of the most dangerous, should the information that was stolen get into the wrong hands.
For real estate businesses, ransomware is particularly dangerous and costly, as real estate companies typically deal with hefty amounts of client data, client lists, and housing information.
Preventing ransomware attacks is difficult (you can read our blog about it here) but using encryption is a good way to prevent any stolen data, such as client's confidential information, from being read or used.
Like many businesses, real estate companies are also relying more and more on cloud computing, storing data, and utilising external IT services.
The tricky side effect of using cloud computing is that the real estate business is reliant on the cloud service to mitigate any potential cybersecurity threats on their behalf.
Whilst the cloud service may be better equipped to deal with hackers, the real estate business could potentially still be liable for the data breach. Real estate companies should be wary of which cloud services they use and what the terms of the agreement are.
How can data protection services prevent cybercrime from targeting real estate businesses?
Using continuous data protection services is a great way for real estate businesses to defend their data from hackers seeking to steal information.
The service works continuously creating backups of data, which ensures that there is a safe copy of the files stored.
Implementing a data protection service that encrypts the information as well, also prevents the data from being read or used against them, such as in the event of a ransomware attack.
Protecting data through encryption is key to the security strategy of companies within the real estate industry, as it is imperative the clients' confidential details are stored safely and securely.