• Security
  • 06/04/2021
The Property Sector: Cyber crime’s next target?

Commercially, the property sector is one of the most lucrative industries in the world. With over half a million people employed in the field in the UK alone, and masses of data being shared every day, it may be of no surprise to hear that cyber criminals are turning their attention towards the sector.

How is the sector at risk?

With an annual turnover of £68.3bn in the UK alone, the motivation for cyber criminals is far from hidden. The amount of sensitive data being shared digitally every single day across vulnerable third-party applications also offers cyber criminals multiple routes into a network. When you think of the property sector, on the whole, ‘cyber security’ or ‘data protection’ are unlikely to be some of the first phrases that come to mind, all of which has made hackers sit up and take note.

Am I at risk?

It’s estimated that, across the entirety of 2021, a cyber attack will take place every 11 seconds, meaning that on probability alone, you or an organisation you’re familiar with will encounter – at a minimum – an attempted breach this year. This could happen in one of many forms, including malware, ransomware, DDoS or a phishing attempt. But, are you at risk?

If you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to most of these points below, you’re likely at risk:

  • Do you hold sensitive customer information? (This could range from names and addresses through to banking information)
  • Is your business dependent on IT to function?
  • Do you have a website?

What can be done?

Interestingly, a survey of the real estate industry by KPMG found that only 50 per cent of organisations said they were prepared for a cyber attack. This, coupled with findings from a previous blog post that highlighted 2020 as being a record year for breaches, means this trend isn’t likely to change any time soon.

In an ideal world, there would be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to cyber security that offered full coverage to organisations. However, the reality is that threats are evolving daily and the leading cause of breaches is, in reality, down to human error – accounting for 95% of all recent breaches.

Developing a clear cyber security plan can go a long way. Implementing simple steps, such as the following, can offer some added security to your organisation:

  • Limit the number of people who can access sensitive information.
  • Only open emails from sources you know and trust.
  • Never click on a link in a suspicious email or social media message.
  • Update all software to the latest version.

Additionally, insurance broker Hamilton Fraser, listed these steps that can help those in the property sector:

  • Before transferring money online, check bank account details in person or over the phone rather than relying on emails.
  • Never release personal information over the phone, through the post or electronically until you have verified the receiver as somebody authorised by the tenant.
  • Take out a dedicated cyber liability insurance policy, specifically designed to help reimburse you for costs incurred by this type of crime.

The last word

Much like IT as a whole, cyber is as relevant for the property sector as it is for every other space and industry in today’s world. Despite this, there is a limit to how much you can take on and manage in-house. Global brands have dedicated cyber security teams; however, the reality is that this doesn’t scale down to businesses existing within the SME space – despite 43% of all attacks now hitting organisations of this size.

On average, IBM values the cost of one single data breach at £2.7m, which is an eyewatering amount for many organisations. But you don’t have to be the next headline, you can act now to ease the threat of a breach. Carry out an IT audit with us to see where your vulnerabilities lie, or get in touch today and hear how we can take care of your security whilst you continue to do what you do best.

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