Modern industries of all kinds are now open to increasing cybersecurity risks. The COVID-19 pandemic spawned an uptick in digital attacks, with little to no safe harbor for businesses that make use of digital platforms. Real estate is no exception.
For real estate agents and the average homebuyer, being aware of and protecting yourself from these cybersecurity problems is an essential priority. Those in the cybersecurity industry can help support these real estate stakeholders with the tools and expertise necessary to manage these risks. However, it will first require an understanding of how common cybersecurity problems affect the real estate industry.
Here, you can explore these problems as well as potential solutions and protections to offer homebuyers.
The cybersecurity risks in real estate
These days, just about every real estate practice has its online component. From listing a home to closing sales during Zoom meetings, we are connected more than ever before during real estate business. At any of these virtual touchstones, malware may make it into the system, or scam artists may make off with private information and even finances.
This is exactly what happened in the case of the First American data breach. Hackers targeted the real estate giant in 2019 and exposed the financial data of 885 million customers. This demonstrates the risks posed to an industry valued at more than $32 trillion. With real estate making up such a prominent target, it’s more important than ever that agents and homebuyers stay aware of the risks.
Some of the most common cybersecurity risks posed to real estate businesses include:
- Business email compromise — this occurs when scammers use convincing emails to trick home buyers or real estate agents into wiring funds to fraudulent accounts.
- Ransomware — ransomware infects a system and prevents it from functioning until the hacker is paid a ransom.
- Vendor compromise — this occurs when a third-party partner experiences a data breach that then affects real estate agents or clients.
These risks and more like them are the reasons cybersecurity training will be another necessary cost for realtors entering the field. Cybersecurity is just as important in real estate as it is everywhere else that sensitive financial data is involved. Since real estate represents one of the biggest and most meaningful investment types we can make, the importance of mitigating these risks is clear.
By being aware of these issues across the industry, you can help real estate professionals create comprehensive IT and cybersecurity solutions.
How to protect yourself and your clients
There is ample opportunity in the real estate sector for innovations in cybersecurity. Value can be cultivated through strong digital practices, and the right tools can help real estate companies get there. Protecting agents and homeowners will then be a matter of how well these businesses can maintain their cybersecurity standards as cybercriminals continue to innovate their own techniques.
You can help start mitigating these common cybersecurity problems in real estate by adopting and sharing policies like the following:
1. Start with employee education.
As many as 95% of data breaches are caused at least in part by human error. Sometimes, mitigating risk is as simple as educating a workforce on good digital hygiene. This includes covering practices like using strong passwords, being cautious with email, and not clicking on links you can’t fully trust.
2. Practice mobile device security.
Many real estate agents work remotely these days, while homebuyers search for homes on mobile applications. Mobile device security is an essential consideration for companies in this environment, and you can better practice it by encrypting your device, backing up your data, and using two-factor authentication.
3. Develop digital verification procedures.
Multi-factor authentication procedures are useful for more than just mobile devices. With all the virtual business taking place, real estate brokers need secure digital signature procedures that can be verified for authenticity.
4. Investigate partner security policies.
Every real estate stakeholder should look into the cybersecurity policies of the companies they are doing business with. For prospective homebuyers, this means asking your agent how they protect your information. For agents, this means partnering with finance and tech companies that have a proven record for security.
5. Look for opportunities to innovate.
Finally, the real estate industry can be best protected by cutting-edge solutions created by technology. From certificate-backed digital signatures to MFA for machine and device authentication, there are methods for protecting data at the forefront of cybersecurity that can be applied to property information. Look for new tech and partnerships to make innovation easier.
These are just a few ways in which the real estate industry can address the cybersecurity problems that it currently faces. By exploring opportunities in this vital sector of the economy, cybersecurity professionals can make a big difference in the state of real estate data as they help to make it safer. In the meantime, all those on the market for a home should take these common problems and best practices into consideration as they develop the right protections for them.
The bottom line
With cybersecurity such a daunting challenge of the modern era, even the real estate business is shadowed by the threat of data breaches. However, the demand for safe solutions means opportunities for security experts.
Real estate agents and prospective homebuyers can be best served by teaming up with these experts as they navigate property transactions. The result is secure financial data and a process you can trust.
As homebuyers increasingly face dangers in the digital real estate marketplace, it’s even more vital you incorporate these solutions into your business.
Note: This blog article was written by a guest contributor for the purpose of offering a wider variety of content for our readers. The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of GlobalSign.