AON national client relationship manager Peter Lynch said there is a misconception in the real estate industry that small offices don’t need to worry about cyber-attacks.
“Most people, when they think about data theft or cyber-crime think about the large multinationals you see on TV every night of the week,” he said during a video interview.
“The reality is small business, and the real estate industry, are very much affected by it.”
Mr Lynch said one reason for the vulnerability is that agents are heavily reliant on mobile devices, social media and third-party websites, all of which can be hacked.
That might then allow criminals to access sensitive data such as bank account details, passport numbers, licence numbers, employment records and addresses, Mr Lynch added.
“Unfortunately, there’s an alarming and increasing trend of cyber-attacks across Australia and it's affecting the real estate industry,” he said.
Mr Lynch said agents could suffer serious damage to their reputation if they lost sensitive data during a cyber-attack.
“Most agents spend years to build it up and that can be shattered in a matter of hours with that sort of activity,” he said.
Mr Lynch said professional indemnity insurance won’t cover a business against a cyber-attack, although there is cyber-insurance.