In the 21st century, the digital landscape has evolved tremendously, influencing virtually all aspects of our lives, including the real estate sector. While this technology-driven metamorphosis has created enormous opportunities for growth and innovation, it has also exposed the industry to the rising menace of cybercrime. Let’s delve into recent statistics and trends that outline the magnitude and implications of real estate cybercrime.
Cybercrime in Real Estate
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2022 Internet Crime Report, the real estate industry faced 13,638 Internet crime incidents, resulting in more than $213 million in losses. This marked a 17% rise in cases and a staggering 32% increase in financial losses compared to the previous year.
In addition, a survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that almost 50% of real estate businesses have experienced some form of cyber-attack in the last two years.
Trends Shaping the Landscape of Real Estate Cybercrime
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A closer examination of the data reveals several key trends. Here are some of the most prominent:
Wire Fraud in Real Estate Transactions: Cybercriminals often target real estate transactions by intercepting and manipulating email communication between buyers, sellers, agents, and lawyers to redirect funds to fraudulent accounts.
Ransomware Attacks: This is where criminals infect a computer system with malware to encrypt data and demand a ransom to restore access, which has become increasingly common. These attacks can bring operations to a standstill and have severe financial implications.
Malware: Viruses, spyware, or worms are designed to damage or conduct unwanted actions on a computer.
Phishing Schemes: In these cyber-attacks, criminals send seemingly legitimate emails to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information, such as login credentials. A report by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint revealed that phishing attempts have seen a 14% year-on-year increase.
Data Breaches: Real estate companies hold extensive sensitive client information, making them a prime target for data breaches.
Strategies to Combat Cybercrime
Realtors can fight cybercriminals by preventing them from ever gaining access to email, personal computers, and real estate digital networks in the first place. The best “protection” is prevention. Here are a few strategies that can help safeguard against potential cyber threats.
Employee Training: Since many cyber-attacks exploit human error, businesses should provide regular cybersecurity training. They should be educated about recognizing potential threats such as phishing emails and suspicious links.
Regular Backups and Updates: This ensures that critical data can be restored in case of a ransomware attack. Moreover, updating all systems and software can help protect against malware and other cyber threats.
Password Protection: Make passwords strong and change them frequently. Don’t share passwords with anyone!
Multi-factor Authentication: This adds an extra layer of security, making it more difficult for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information.
Cyber Liability Insurance: Given the potential financial damage caused by cybercrime, investing in cybersecurity insurance can offer much-needed protection for real estate businesses.
Cybercriminals count on the inability of realtors to know when they are vulnerable to attack. Fight the rise in real estate-related cybercrime through preventative habits and clear instructions to clients during closing procedures!
Timothy Dimoff Knows the Unique Security Risks for Realtors
Discover more about the internet safety issues affecting realtors conducting business in today’s digital world. Tim’s Talk Internet Safety for Realtors can empower realtors to protect themselves from scams, viruses, and identity theft. Contact Tim to discuss your presentation needs.