There used to be a time when hackers would only target retailers. Nevertheless, since companies in virtually every industry have started conducting most of their business digitally, no one is now safe. Keep in mind that hackers prefer attacking small and medium-sized businesses, since they often aren’t prepared to handle a cyber attack. The federal law is set up in a way to allow real estate companies to work without having to install information security programs. Many agents don’t even think about improving their cybersecurity, which is exactly why hackers are likely to target them. Here is how they might try to do it.
These are among the most common cybersecurity threats real estate businesses face. Ransomware represents a type of malware which can encrypt the data on your device and make it unavailable. The only way to get the data back is if you pay a ransom. The main reason why this is such a common cyber attack is because it’s incredibly profitable for hackers. Note that they won’t attempt to encrypt the data only on your computer. They’ll target every device that is connected to the internet. All it takes is for one employee to click on a malicious email to make everyone’s information unavailable.
Business Email Compromise
Also referred to as wire fraud, this is an attack that tricks people into sending money to a criminal’s bank account. Hackers are able to do a business email compromise (BEC) by sending fake messages that look nearly identical to the ones you would receive from a trusted business partner. It’s worth noting that BEC is responsible for billions in business losses annually.
This is especially a problem with the real estate industry, since every individual involved in a transaction can potentially be a victim. Know that buyers are often targeted in wire fraud. The hackers often infiltrate a real estate company’s email account and start gathering information. When they find emails about upcoming home sales, they’re able to send an email to the buyers. Since they are able to easily pose as real estate agents, they’ll likely try requesting buyers transfer money to their accounts. Once they get the funds, they withdraw them and close the account.
Cloud Computing Vendors
Like businesses in most industries, real estate companies have started relying on cloud computing. This is an easy and cheap way to keep all of your information in one place. Unfortunately, storing important data on clouds will increase your risk of becoming a target. Keep in mind that not a lot of protection is guaranteed when you sign cloud computing agreements. In the event that your cloud provider gets attacked, you will hold most of the liability and your sensitive information will get compromised.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybersecurity Threats
Just because real estate businesses can suffer from a number of cybersecurity threats, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to protect yourself. There is plenty you can do to insure all of your valuable information remains safe. It’s recommended you set up a virtual private network (VPN). This will help keep your web browsing secure and private. You may find it’s also useful for other things as well, such as entertainment. For instance, a VPN enables you to stream content on Netflix no matter which part of the world it’s available in. In fact, here is a list of VPNs that work with Netflix.
In order to prevent BEC attacks, you can develop a wire policy. Inform your buyers that they should never send a wire transfer only because they received an email. Set up a system so that buyers can verify the information in an email before doing anything. Backing up your system frequently will decrease the likelihood of ransomware threats. Note that hackers mostly target companies who don’t do regular backups, since they’re more likely to pay a ransom.