The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recent National Scams Awareness Week revealed that Aussie businesses lost approximately $60 million as a result of cybercrime last year. This is a 170 per cent increase from the year prior.
With property managers playing host to valuable data, they remain a key target for scammers looking to capitalise on weak cyber security measures, according to money expert at comparethemarket.com.au Rod Attrill.
“Those working in the real estate and property management sector, dealing with large amounts of money, often from new customers, can be the biggest target of email compromise scams,” Mr Attrill said.
“Opportunistic scammers will pose as fake businesses to provide customers with different bank account details. Sadly, many clients will fall into this trap of depositing into a false account, with both parties losing out on a sale and, consequently, a lot of money.”
Mr Attrill noted five security measures that will offer protection from cybercrime.
1. Cyber risk assessment
“The very first step to better protect your business against cybercrime is to run a cyber risk assessment to find any security gaps, or any risks with your tech that could be hacked (i.e. servers, websites, etc.),” Mr Attrill said.
“The purpose of a cyber risk assessment is to measure your business’s overall risk level by understanding what sensitive information could be attractive to hackers.”
2. Backing up
“Setting up an automatic backup of your business data and files into a secure, off-site location will help protect your data in the long run,” Mr Attrill said.
“Make sure you always encrypt any sensitive information, too. This will ensure that in the event of a cyber attack, your organisation will be able to retrieve any information that is critical for business like financial records and customer details. On top of this, any data stolen will be indecipherable and therefore worthless to hackers.”
3. Regularly update security software
“Safeguard your business’s computer systems against any malware issues by keeping your anti-virus and internet security software as up to date as possible. These types of applications should detect and prevent any software ‘infections’ like unauthorised connections to your network, bugs or misconfigured server settings,” Mr Attrill said.
“You should also apply security patches (program updates designed to cover any security gaps on your computer system) to keep hackers out, too.”
4. Protect network connections
“Help protect your computer systems with a VPN-capable firewall (protection for one network to another) to restrict any unauthorised access to your network,” Mr Attrill said.
“It’s also crucial to encrypt your Wi-Fi connection to protect the information you send over your wireless network from any outsiders, including cyber criminals. You should also ensure that your router is password protected, too.”
5. Cyber liability insurance
“Your business could be up for a large chunk of cash, reputational damage and even legal action in the event of a cyber attack. This is why cyber liability insurance is so important to have,” Mr Attrill said.
“This type of business insurance may not only help your organisation cover expenses when responding to a cyber attack but also associated loss of profits from business disruption. This type of coverage could even help with your legal liability to third parties following a data breach.”