As businesses, even in the industries that do not directly involve IT, get more and more dependent on the Internet, digital tech, cloud solutions, and other high-tech tools, the threat of cybercrime becomes more real and influential with every passing year. In a way, traditionally conservative industries like real estate are even more vulnerable: they have no choice but to adopt new technology, but the lack of expertise often makes them wide open for attacks. Recent hack aimed at real estate giant First American is a good example – insufficient security gave criminals access to social security numbers, tax documents and records dating as far back as 2003. What is even more critical is that cybercriminals do not just target big corporations – they look for wherever security is lax. All this means that you cannot just leave things to chance and hope the danger will pass you by. You have to take active steps to prevent it – and in this article, you will find some suggestions for what you can do.
1. Teach your employees the principles of email and password hygiene
Just like with many other IT-related issues, the main problem is the person sitting in front of the monitor. The majority of security breaches happen not because hackers find some flaws in the security system and use it to break through directly, but because they use incompetence, laziness or gullibility of the company’s employees to their advantage. The only way to battle it is to teach your employees the rules and hammer their seriousness home. Some things you should teach them are:
- Never click on unknown attachments or links, even if they seemingly come from legitimate sources;
- Avoid performing business activities over public Wi-Fi;
- Carefully protect login and password information to business-related authentications;
- Never reuse logins and passwords in multiples authentications;
- Regularly purge email accounts while saving important data in secure storage;
- Use two-factor authentication where it is available;
- Use a reliable password manager.
2. Get a virtual SOC
A Virtual SOC (Security Operations Center) is a remote team of cybersecurity experts that keep an eye on your network, inform you when they uncover vulnerabilities, and assist in preparing and implementing practices aimed at decreasing the likelihood and efficiency of a potential cyber-attack. According to SourcetekIt, such an arrangement can be a valuable asset for a business of any size, but especially small- and midsize companies: ones that have to rely on digital technologies in their day-to-day operations, but rarely have enough capital to maintain their own full-time in-house cybersecurity department.
3. Create secure standards around wire transfers
Real estate, by definition, often has to deal with wire transfers. It is crucial to develop a set of practices aimed at protecting this practice. They may differ depending on your company, but one thing is for sure – you should never conduct wire transfers via email, as it is an extremely vulnerable system. It was mainly the use of email that made Crye-Leike security breach possible. By keeping financial operations strictly out of email, you protect both your company and your clients from phishing scams.
4. Establish strict software-related policies
As we already said, the best way to protect from security breaches is to keep your employees well-informed and acquainted with the best cybersecurity procedures. However, you cannot neglect updating your software to meet the demands of the time.
- Always keep antivirus and firewall software running, updated and patched;
- Make sure your operating system and the software you use immediately receive all the latest updates and patches;
- Create backups regularly and keep them separately from your working systems;
- Never download or install new apps of software without checking them for legitimacy and security concerns.
5. Implement location management
Location Management is available as part of S/4HANA Cloud for Real Estate or in S/4HANA on premises. It is configured in addition to contract management and can enable an entire organization to be visually represented from a global level, supplemented with dynamic KPIs down to building and even to room level.
The complete solution of lease management and location management, like property management, fully enables the “digital twin” concept (digital representation of buildings and their component objects connected with all associated data).
The key advantages would be:
- Ease of audibility in accordance with IFRS 16 and US GAAP
- Instant availability of reporting on all financials occupancy and key contract dates as a single source of the truth
- Seamless integration enabling contracts to drive automatic billing, recharge of proportional service charges, assignment of plant maintenance meters
- The digital representation of a building portfolio and its associated data
Real estate’s alignment with the emergent concepts such as the digital twin, big data and internet of things makes it a candidate for benefits of automation and insight from interconnected data.
Taking into account the amount of sensitive private and financial data, real estate companies have to deal with, investing in one should be among your top priorities.
At a glance, it may seem that real estate is not a business to be particularly conscious about cybersecurity issues, but facts demonstrate that it is just as vulnerable, if not more, than more IT-related areas.