Cyber Security: Are You Asking the Right Questions?

What we’re finding very interesting, and a new dynamic that’s super heavy with consumers and banks, is the importance of cyber security for real estate. While this subject probably isn’t something that gets a lot of attention prior to advances in real estate technology, it has now become something that requires attention by all parties. Why you ask? Because we are now, finally, seeing all-in-one products that will tie into your accounting systems, but will also tie into your treasuring and banking systems as a whole.

We Are FINALLY Embracing Technology...Now We Have to Worry About Cyber Security?!

These great advancements are amazing and help push our industry into the right direction, however, this also means that cyber attackers are trying to snatch the same information that you’re trying to protect. Let’s prepare for them by implementing safeguards.

Especially in the real estate industry, there are challenges that center on cyber and physical security issues in many aspects during our business transactions. Here are some of the areas to pay special attention to:

  • Traditional cyber security issues surrounding email, social media, file storage through cloud platforms and other business applications.
  • Real estate specific issues including property management, lease, finance and tenant related activities. With personal information being given during the property management process, this information is often targeted through those same systems. Advances in technology also provide for cash management applications to allow ease of payment for tenants. These applications can be vulnerable to attacks as third-parties usually design them.
  • Working in smart, “connected” buildings offer an additional threat. While smart buildings offer many advantages such as lowering electricity costs, reducing carbon footprint to ultimately reduce costs and create savings, potential attacks could range from something as simple as turning off the lights or more potential serious damage. It is important for building systems to be locked down.
  • Emerging systems in technology allow for applications such as facial and fingerprint recognition and wireless activity umbrellas. With these advances it also means having a proper team with the knowledge and skills to implement and maintain these sophisticated applications.

Hackers are Everywhere!

The fact that we now conduct a lot of business online, through web browsers and other vehicles through the Internet, it’s obviously much bigger now than ever before - yet we have to keep the momentum moving forward, to keep it moving as things happen. As smarter technology is developed to increase the ease and effectiveness of the way we do business, hackers are also becoming more sophisticated in the digital world. The positive note to this is that each time something happens, the technology we use to protect us is also restructured and upgraded to protect against it happening again. It’s almost like a battle between the good and bad and each time, we make it harder and harder for the hackers to get our information!

With 42.8 million detected incidents reported according to The Global State of Information Security®Survey 2014, this is a big issue that we need to watch out for and implement standards into our corporate framework.

The Financial Industry Gets It...

Most companies in the financial and banking industry have ramped up their spending to help combat hackers and cyber-attacks and over the years, with continuous advancements in technology, this amount will no doubt increase tremendously.

This means banking industry leaders are increasing security in the following areas:

  • Due diligence: adding in on-site assessments of third-party vendors
  • A more stringent procedure policy: making sure there are established minimum security requirements for organizations and subcontractors, regular audits and a requirement of notification should their third-party vendors have a security breach
  • Security safeguards: encryption and multi-factor authentication
  • Liability protections: having cyber insurance and indemnification clauses in their vendor contracts
  • On-going cyber security audits

Get a Plan Together

While we can’t protect against every possible attack, having a plan in place and proper measures can keep us prepared for attacks. This enables us to protect our clients and our industry. Take into consideration these areas as you prepare your plan. Whether you decide to hire a Chief Information Security Officer or bring in consultants, planning a defensive strategy is required to stay one step ahead. For more information check out Homeland Security’s website: https://www.dhs.gov/topic/cybersecurity.