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A lot greater than you probably think. Real estate businesses are prime targets for cyber criminals, yet an alarming number are unprepared for an attack.
Listen to the news and you’re likely to hear about another high profile corporation falling victim to a cyber crime (think WannaCry, Petaya or any number of data breaches from Uber to Ticketmaster). While these big cases make headlines, small businesses fall victim to cyber crimes every day – from data breaches to phishing scams, payments frauds to email compromises.
In fact, SMEs are the target of 43 per cent of all cyber crime1 and almost a quarter of all Australian SMEs experienced a cyber attack or hacking attempt last year,2 with cyber crime being cited as the fifth biggest risk SMEs face.3
Real estate professionals can be rich pickings for cybercriminals. Not only do REs hold a lot of personal data (the theft of which can enable all kinds of fraud), they are also involved in high-value transactions with money passing through various accounts and settlement platforms. Any chink in a participant’s security provides an ‘in’ that can be exploited in minutes.
The reason so many cyber criminals target SMEs is because, unlike many large corporations, most don’t have the resources to combat cyber threats.
With one-third of SMEs failing to take proactive measures against cyber security breaches,4 it is little wonder hackers consider them soft targets. A study found that 87 per cent of SMEs believed their business was safe from cyber attacks because they used antivirus software and just 13 per cent had a cyber security plan in place.5
The impact of falling victim can be devastating. The financial costs can be crippling, with the average total cost of a data breach topping $2.51 million.6 Add to this the cost to reputation – 75 per cent of SMEs have said it would be harder to restore their business’ public image after an attack than to restore employee trust and morale7 – so it is not surprising that 60 per cent of SMEs that experience a cyber breach go out of business within the following six months.8
Despite this alarming fact, 56 per cent of SMEs are unprepared to combat a cyber threat and just 20 per cent of those with security measures in place feel their business is very well protected.9 So with 41 per cent of SMEs believing cyber crime will impact their business within the next two years, and one-third having no idea how well they would respond if it did,10 it might be time to take your RE business’ cyber security seriously.
10 tips to help reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber crime
- Install security software that includes a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware on company-supplied and BYO devices.
- Always install the security updates/patches on all devices.
- Secure your networks, including Wi-Fi.
- Use best-practice when it comes to passwords – regularly change them; don’t share them; use strong ones; don’t use the same one for multiple devices or accounts.
- Use multi-factor authentication where possible.
- Encrypt all inbound and outbound data, especially on portable devices such as laptops and smart phones.
- Be careful when using public wireless networks and avoid making online transactions when using public or complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Regularly back-up all data using multiple platforms e.g. on a portable hard drive and to the cloud (and avoid storing sensitive information in the cloud).
- Train staff to recognise cyber risks including scams, spam and phishing.
- Have a cyber attack response plan.
You can help safeguard your business with Cyber Liability insurance cover. At EBM, we understand the real estate industry and the risks your business faces. With this knowledge, we can help you source a broad Cyber Insurance policy to protect against this growing exposure. An EBM Broker will help you understand your obligations under cover, so if your business should fall victim to a cyber incident, you will have the mechanisms in place to limit the impact of your business’ operations.
2 Norton, 2017 SME Cyber Security Survey
3 Government of New South Wales, Cyber Scare: A look at small to medium-sized business and the emergence of cyber crime in Australia
4 Telstra Cyber Security Report 2017
6Ponemon Institute, 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study: Australia
7Webroot survey, 2017
9 Allianz Worldwide Partners, SME survey
10 Allianz Worldwide Partners, SME survey
Our advice about insurance is provided for your general information and does not take into account your individual needs. You should read the Product Disclosure Statement and Policy Wording prior to making a decision, these can be obtained directly from EBM.
Article supplied by EBM.
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