Cybercrime is a growing problem for businesses around the world and is it getting worse every year. The real estate industry has been shifting to an online focus over recent years, as has virtually every sector as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – and this has only led to there being more opportunities for cybercriminals.

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The numbers involved are truly staggering. It was recently predicted that by 2025, the world will lose $10.5 trillion to cybercrime. Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, persistent and equipped and this means that businesses need to start taking the issue more seriously.

With the rise in the number of cyberattacks, the onus is on businesses in all industries to make sure that they are doing enough to keep their business secure. But according to recently revealed statistics, the real estate industry might have more reason than most to be concerned about the threats from cybercriminals.

A 2018 U.S. report says one in three real estate companies reported suffering a cyberattack within the two years previous – and perhaps even more worrying is the fact that half of all the companies in the industry stated they did not believe they were prepared to prevent an attack. There are many types of attacks that could be deployed against a real estate business including business email compromise or data loss via phishing emails. Ransomware has also been effective – a virus shuts out the business from its own data and threatens to delete it if no payment is received.

Through the coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly common for real estate staff to work from home. While the industry has adapted well to remote working, there is no doubt that it can leave workers at risk in terms of their cybersecurity.

“With remote working the new norm, it’s easy to slip into bad habits,” says Juliette Hudson, senior SOC analyst at the U.K.-based Redscan. “However, with cybersecurity risks being greater than ever and remote workers lacking office protections, it’s important to maintain a high, if not higher standard, of security awareness.”

Where in-office working provides staff with stronger protections, staff based at home may be working with a custom setup that doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of defences they may have been taking for granted. Additionally, working remotely often puts more of the onus of security on the workers themselves, and if they aren’t used to taking these kinds of precautions it can leave them underprepared.

Members of staff need to be provided not only with training to help them understand how to remain secure at all times, but also with cybersecurity measures. Strong procedures should be put in place that mean that if workers carry out their days in accordance with the defined processes, they will be secure.

It is often misunderstood just how damaging a cyberattack can be. Suffering a data breach or a direct loss of money isn’t just about the immediate effects of those issues. Typically much more damaging to a real estate business is the negative impact on the reputation of the company. If your business lost the data of customers, that will be remembered and may be a barrier to getting further customers in future.

Additionally, a cyber breach can cause complications with issues such as data protection compliance, which can lead your business to be fined.

Some real estate industry businesses are concerned that spending on cybersecurity will simply be wasted money. But the truth is that companies can no longer afford to simply hope that they won’t be attacked. The number of hackers and cybercriminals grows constantly, and to a certain extent it is only a matter of time before your organization faces an attack. Spending on cybersecurity is investing in the safety of the business and ensuring that you remain trusted and well-thought-of should an attack take place.

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