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  • Writer's pictureReal Estate Today - New Zealand

Cybercrime – The Enemy is Real

Written by Paul Davies - ONE AGENCY CEO

Perpetuating the nail-biting suspense of a horror movie, it’s a silent enemy that could infiltrate your business at any moment.

Increasingly active in the Real Estate space, cybercrime is wreaking havoc with more and more unsuspecting victims.

But why the property sector and why you?

The reality is, the property industry has a unique set of weaknesses that open doors for criminals to skim data, redirect funds and disable computer systems with raging success.

In early 2023 Sebastian Mill, leading Australian SaaS technology platform ‘InfoTrack’s  Chief financial Officer, outlined the growing risk to the industry, not only for business owners but their clients as well.

“If your clients suffer financial loss, you could be liable, leading to professional negligence lawsuits, increased indemnity insurance premiums, and reputational damage,” he cautioned. 

Unlike other industries, the volume of identification, banking and personal information held by Real Estate businesses is a magnet for identity theft.

Additionally on a financial level, whilst you are feverishly peddling property, your high value transactions are being funnelled through various bank accounts and settlement platforms that are attracting unwanted attention from willing cyber criminals who know where to look.

And that ‘cloud’ that was apparently the answer to everything ‘storage’ - it’s now the key to the holy hacker grail.

So, what do these threats look like and how do you safeguard against them?

The most common trends in recent data seem to suggest the following are the most common:

Wire Fraud - Email communications between buyers, sellers, agents, and lawyers targeted to manipulate transactions and redirect funds to fraudulent accounts.

Ransomware Attacks – Malware installed to encrypt computer data, effectively locking systems - only restored once a monetary ransom is paid.

Malware - Viruses, spyware or worms maliciously installed to facilitate unwanted actions on a computer.

Phishing Schemes - The sending of seemingly legitimate emails to elicit sensitive information such as confidential login details.

As the sophistication of cyber breaches grows, it’s apparent these invisible pirates get smarter at the same rate as the technology.

According to a study by KPMG, as of 2023 30% of organisations had fallen prey to cybercrimes in the past two years with only 50% of participants believing they had sufficient resources to mitigate a cybersecurity event.

So, what can you do to protect your business?

  • Educate your staff. Carry out regular cybersecurity training and familiarise them with potential threats.

  • Back up your systems religiously and install all available updates at regular intervals.

  • Guard all password information and frequently update.

  • Adopt multi factor authentication as a second level of protection.

  • Take out cyber liability insurance.

There’s no doubt the threat is real and ‘protection is the best prevention’.

The lesson here - know your enemy and keep them close.


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