Cyber security is a hot topic in real estate in the last 12-months. With cyber leaks across major retailers and banking institutions this year in Australia, ensuring the real estate industry is protected against a cyber-attack is top of mind for vendors and agencies alike.
This article will explore the top trends in real estate cybersecurity, providing top tips on how to protect your agency against cybercrime. At Reapit, we strongly believe everyone has a role to play in keeping threats at bay, together.
As of 2024, 65.8% of agency’s rely on technology vendors to govern and protect their data. While thisstatistic may seem shocking, it’s hardly surprising, as only 56.2% say they usea documented password policy and tools to encourage responsible password. practices and enforce the minimum password requirements.
This is further supported by industry research, a great example being this research piece conducted in all the way back in 2014. A breach or asecurity incident could potentially expose your agency to reputational, financial, and regulatory risks. Let’s change those stats together!
Improving cyber security is so important, particularly considering the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) agents collects on a daily basis. The following are some top strategies andactions you can take to enhance your cyber-security practices.
Just a quick disclaimer - this advice is general in nature and does not take into consideration the specific requirements of your agency. Please consult your IT Managed Service Provider(MSP), internal experts, or consultants for more specific advice.
1. Implement a Robust Password Policy:
- Enforcecomplex passwords with a mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols
- Mandate regular password changes
- Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security.
Tip: Providing your team with a password protectionwallet like LastPass makes it easier tocreate and securely store passwords.
2. Employee Training and Awareness:
- Conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions for all staff members
- Educate employees about phishing attacks and social engineering tactics
- Encourage a culture of cybersecurity awareness within the organization.
REIoffers various courses to members and non-members to help keep your teamsinformed and up to date (REINSW, REIQ, REIWA).
3. Regular Software Updates:
- Ensure that all software, including operating systems, antivirus programs, and other applications, is regularly updated
- Enable automatic updates whenever possible to patch vulnerabilities promptly.
4. Data Encryption:
- Encrypt sensitive data both in transit and at rest
- Utilize secure communication channels, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), forremote access to company systems.
There are number of mobile and desktop options for VPN software available for teamsof all shapes and sizes.
5. Secure Wi-Fi Networks:
- Setup secure Wi-Fi networks with strong encryption (WPA3)
- Change default router login credentials and regularly update them
- Segment guest and internal networks to prevent unauthorized access.
Tip: Ensuring your teams can only access online spaces through a secure network is a great way to create asecurity net for team members who may not know how to check the security of their WIFI network at home or working on the go.
6. Back up and Recovery Plan:
- Regularly back up critical data and ensure backups are stored in a secure, off site location
- Testdata restoration procedures periodically to guarantee their effectiveness incase of a cyber incident.
7. Implement Role-Based Access Control (RBAC):
- Assign permissions based on job roles to restrict access to sensitive information
- Regularly review and update access permissions as job roles change within theorganization.
This is standard functionality across Reapit systems that maintain sensitive client information.
8. Vendor Security Assessment:
- Evaluate the cybersecurity practices of third-party vendors and service providers
- Ensure that vendors comply with industry standards and regulations.
9. Incident Response Plan:
- Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to address and mitigate the impact of acybersecurity incident
- Regularly test and update the incident response plan to align with emerging threats.
10. Regular Security Audits:
- Conduct periodic cybersecurity audits to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses
- Engage third-party cybersecurity experts to perform penetration testing and vulnerability assessments.
11. Compliance with Privacy Regulations:
- Stayinformed about relevant privacy regulations, such as the Privacy Act 1988 inAustralia
- Ensure compliance with data protection laws and regulations applicable to the realestate industry based on State/Territory laws.
This is particularly important for your teams who manage and communicate on a regularbasis with their databases to ensure they’re staying compliant.
12. Cyber Insurance:
- Consider investing in cyber insurance to provide financial protection in the event of asecurity breach
- Review and understand the coverage offered by the insurance policy.
By creating a secure environment for your teams to work in, we are all doing our part to ensure the sensitiveinformation handled by your teams is secure and protected into 2024.