Real Estate Cyber Security Risks: How To Avoid Being A Target

More and more businesses are going online to save on extra logistical costs and to engage with consumers in a better way. With growing online presence, businesses and industries become susceptible to threats that lurk on the internet. Cyber security threats are ever escalating as more and more companies and enterprises are potentially at risk to protect their establishment on the World Wide Web. When it comes to the real estate industry, cyber security isn’t a clearly highlighted issue. In this article we will look at the reasons why cybercrimes are a serious hazard to the real estate industry and the ways in which it can avoid being a target.

Real Estate Cyber Security Risks  How To Avoid Being A Target

The need for real estate businesses to be secure online

Physical security of assets like office buildings, shopping centers, houses, condos, apartments, hotels, multiplexes, farmlands and factories have been of utmost concern to real estate executives. Protection from natural disasters, theft and damage are some of the things that are more likely to get discussed in all real estate briefings. Sectors like banking and hospitals have over a period of time improved their cyber security measures as crucial sensitive information about consumers are stored on their servers. Safeguarding this data is now also applicable in the real estate world since businesses are becoming more reliant on digital technology.

You need to be mindful of the security threats from cyberspace. Whether you are managing a real estate business online, letting your customers log in crucial data on your website, or you are a customer, browsing through the internet to find a condo, you need to be secure from online threats. You can check out more information on condo listings and other real estate offerings in the West Toronto area to pick the best option for your investment purposes.

Real estate executives deal with company leases, financial terms and deals, rental applications, systems that have payment card information of tenants and clients. Plus, confidential data is always being passed back and forth while closing a deal through various means like email, mobiles, tablets and cloud-based computing applications. Investment companies and trusts deal with large sums of money online, sometimes with high-profile clients and tenants and cyber attackers can keep a close watch on all the dealings and potentially steal legal information, credit details and financial secrets from such parties. Agencies associated with realtors like service providers, infrastructure and logistics bodies also pose a threat as vulnerability in cyber security systems of one organization may endanger the others.

Cyber security threats to real estate world:

Malicious Emails

Scammers try to pick a real estate company to steal from and in order to succeed in their vicious plan they send an email to those who are associated with that firm. Potential targets could be employees or consumers. Fraudsters mask themselves as someone of a senior post, like a CEO. These emails try to convince the receiver of depositing a certain amount into a bank account or in a fund. The allurement could be by way of giving them a promise of a higher investment return or a down payment for a property. People unaware of the dangers could deposit the money into the hoaxers’ account. You can also fall into this trap from fake mortgage claiming companies who can send you emails to wire some amount and settle your mortgage claims.

(How Your Real Estate Business Can Avoid Being a Cyber Security Target. Source: Pixabay)

Ransomware and Malware

Hackers design ransomware as a software that blocks access to information on a device till a required amount is paid up online. The data in question will be stolen through encryption by the hackers and you won’t be able to access it. Thias also makes your device insecure and allows the hackers to gain access to your device and its stored data. Malware, a kind of coded software developed by cyber attackers, can gain unauthorized access to a device or network while causing extensive damage to its data. These can be used by online scammers to gain knowledge of transaction details of a real estate deal, social security numbers of the clients, landowners and tenants and other information like payment card details, bank account numbers, etc.

Cloud computing storage applications

Many applications provide cloud computing platforms to organizations, businesses and establishments to use for their network, land deals, settlements, and manpower and resource activity. If cyber criminals get their hands on this software, they can access sensitive company data. This can only be protected from installing a high-end robust anti-virus software in all related applications.

Ways to safeguard your online security

  • Training your staff - Whether it is a resentful employee who is holding bitterness, whether it is a grateful staffer who is unsure of how to handle sensitive data, or even a third-party vendor with insecure anti spyware programs, all directly or indirectly pose a serious cyber security threat. All need to be trained and equipped with info, resources through which they can act securely in the common network.
  • Securing data - Data appears like a costly diamond for an online thief. Therefore, its security is paramount for any real estate company. Installing of internal auditing software or programs to facilitate that is recommended. You should ensure that areas that store the data like server rooms, databases, warehouses are well protected and covered for both online and onsite threats. Backing up your date securely can also ensure you don’t lose it in case of a breach.
  • Fortifying your security systems - Web fraudsters can crack online security systems that can be breached easily, meaning they have a weaker system in place. Safeguard your security systems and firewalls with strong and impenetrable access tools and passwords just so that they don’t end up being broken easily. You must ensure that only a few trusted and accountable individuals have the means to keep a check on these regularly.
  • Examining third-party contracts - You might have set high standards of cyber security for your real estate company but that doesn’t mean that your third-party vendor or outside agents have the same level of online sensitivity. You must work with certified third-party agencies that give equal importance to safeguarding online resources. Be it logistics partners, handyman specialists, construction companies, government agencies, lawyers, accounting firms and other individuals that you deal with on a daily basis, they need to be acquainted with your specified user interfaces and networks which are secure, authentic and certified. Make them sign an online safety compliance form before going ahead with the contract.
  • Reporting a breach: You must frequently connect with both internal and external stakeholders, top-level management, board of trustees or investors, clients, and the press to report any cyber security event. Develop a PR strategy on how you will tackle a hack in your network and install related crisis management systems in place.

A careful study of the potential cyber security threats and covering your tracks while implementing these procedures could be key to how successfully you can run your real estate business online.

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Online Threat Alerts Security Tips

Pay the safest way

Credit cards are the safest way to pay for online purchases because you can dispute the charges if you never get the goods or services or if the offer was misrepresented. Federal law limits your liability to $50 if someone makes unauthorized charges to your account, and most credit card issuers will remove them completely if you report the problem promptly.

Guard your personal information

In any transaction you conduct, make sure to check with your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if the seller, charity, company, or organization is credible. Be especially wary if the entity is unfamiliar to you. Always call the number found on a website’s contact information to make sure the number legitimately belongs to the entity you are dealing with.

Be careful of the information you share

Never give out your codes, passwords or personal information, unless you are sure of who you're dealing with

Know who you’re dealing with

Crooks pretending to be from companies you do business with may call or send an email, claiming they need to verify your personal information. Don’t provide your credit card or bank account number unless you are actually paying for something and know who you are sending payment to. Your social security number should not be necessary unless you are applying for credit. Be especially suspicious if someone claiming to be from a company with whom you have an account asks for information that the business already has.

Check your accounts

Regularly check your account transactions and report any suspicious or unauthorised transactions.

Don’t believe promises of easy money

If someone claims that you can earn money with little or no work, get a loan or credit card even if you have bad credit, or make money on an investment with little or no risk, it’s probably a scam. Oftentimes, offers that seem too good to be true, actually are too good to be true.

Do not open email from people you don’t know

If you are unsure whether an email you received is legitimate, try contacting the sender directly via other means. Do not click on any links in an email unless you are sure it is safe.

Think before you click

If an email or text message looks suspicious, don’t open any attachments or click on the links.

Verify urgent requests or unsolicited emails, messages or phone calls before you respond

If you receive a message or a phone call asking for immediate action and don't know the sender, it could be a phishing message.

Be careful with links and new website addresses

Malicious website addresses may appear almost identical to legitimate sites. Scammers often use a slight variation in spelling or logo to lure you. Malicious links can also come from friends whose email has unknowingly been compromised, so be careful.

Secure your personal information

Before providing any personal information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, account numbers, and passwords, be sure the website is secure.

Stay informed on the latest cyber threats

Keep yourself up to date on current scams by visiting this website daily.

Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are critical to online security.

Keep your software up to date and maintain preventative software programs

Keep all of your software applications up to date on your computers and mobile devices. Install software that provides antivirus, firewall, and email filter services.

Update the operating systems on your electronic devices

Make sure your operating systems (OSs) and applications are up to date on all of your electronic devices. Older and unpatched versions of OSs and software are the target of many hacks. Read the CISA security tip on Understanding Patches and Software Updates for more information.

What if You Got Scammed?

Stop Contact With The Scammer

Hang up the phone. Do not reply to emails, messages, or letters that the scammer sends. Do not make any more payments to the scammer. Beware of additional scammers who may contact you claiming they can help you get your lost money back.

Secure Your Finances

  • Report potentially compromised bank account, credit or debit card information to your financial institution(s) immediately. They may be able to cancel or reverse fraudulent transactions.
  • Notify the three major credit bureaus. They can add a fraud alert to warn potential credit grantors that you may be a victim of identity theft. You may also want to consider placing a free security freeze on your credit report. Doing so prevents lenders and others from accessing your credit report entirely, which will prevent them from extending credit:

Check Your Computer

If your computer was accessed or otherwise affected by a scam, check to make sure that your anti-virus is up-to-date and running and that your system is free of malware and keylogging software. You may also need to seek the help of a computer repair company. Consider utilizing the Better Business Bureau’s website to find a reputable company.

Change Your Account Passwords

Update your bank, credit card, social media, and email account passwords to try to limit further unauthorized access. Make sure to choose strong passwords when changing account passwords.

Report The Scam

Reporting helps protect others. While agencies can’t always track down perpetrators of crimes against scammers, they can utilize the information gathered to record patterns of abuse which may lead to action being taken against a company or industry.

Report your issue to the following agencies based on the nature of the scam:

  • Local Law Enforcement: Consumers are encouraged to report scams to their local police department or sheriff’s office, especially if you lost money or property or had your identity compromised.
  • Federal Trade Commission: Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or use the Online Complaint Assistant to report various types of fraud, including counterfeit checks, lottery or sweepstakes scams, and more.
  • If someone is using your personal information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, to open new accounts, make purchases, or get a tax refund, report it at This federal government site will also help you create your Identity Theft Report and a personal recovery plan based on your situation. Questions can be directed to 877-ID THEFT.

How To Recognize a Phishing Scam

Scammers use email or text messages to try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could get access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful.

Scammers often update their tactics to keep up with the latest news or trends, but here are some common tactics used in phishing emails or text messages:

Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. You might get an unexpected email or text message that looks like it’s from a company you know or trust, like a bank or a credit card or utility company. Or maybe it’s from an online payment website or app. The message could be from a scammer, who might

  • say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts — they haven’t
  • claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information — there isn’t
  • say you need to confirm some personal or financial information — you don’t
  • include an invoice you don’t recognize — it’s fake
  • want you to click on a link to make a payment — but the link has malware
  • say you’re eligible to register for a government refund — it’s a scam
  • offer a coupon for free stuff — it’s not real

About Online Threat Alerts (OTA)

Online Threat Alerts or OTA is an anti-cybercrime community that started in 2012. OTA alerts the public to cyber crimes and other web threats.

By alerting the public, we have prevented a lot of online users from getting scammed or becoming victims of cybercrimes.

With the ever-increasing number of people going online, it important to have a community like OTA that continuously alerts or protects those same people from cyber-criminals, scammers and hackers, who are every day finding new ways of carrying out their malicious activities.

Online users can help by reporting suspicious or malicious messages or websites to OTA. And, if they want to determine if a message or website is a threat or scam, they can use OTA's search engine to search for the website or parts of the message for information.

Help maintain Online Threat Alerts (OTA).

Real Estate Cyber Security Risks: How To Avoid Being A Target