Cybersecurity Threats in Commercial Real Estate

Written by Jenkin Biff for

More and more critical infrastructure industries are capitalising on new technology to catch up with the ever-changing digital landscape.

Take the commercial real estate industry for example. Having to forcibly adapt to the digital age has given birth to property technology (or proptech) products like smart lockers, localized energy resources, machine learning, and drone tech as listed in our post ‘4 Technology Trends to Watch in Commercial Property Management’. Furthermore, proptech has helped real estate companies read new consumption patterns and use digital tools to their advantage.

But since real estate companies are a goldmine for customer and industry data, using proptech can make them more vulnerable to cyber threats. In fact, cybersecurity firm eSentire has reported that the real estate industry was the second most attacked industry during the second quarter of 2018.

For real estate companies to come up with a foolproof cybersecurity strategy, they should first know how proptech opens them up to malicious attacks. With that said, here we’ll discuss the current cyber threats in real estate and what real estate companies can do to fortify their cybersecurity plan.

How are real estate companies at risk for cybersecurity threats?

Real estate, by and large, accounts for a large number of transactions that involves a lot of sensitive information. From social security numbers to bank account details, most real estate businesses store this important information on digital servers. The overflowing amount of data, most it financial, which can be farmed, has made commercial real estate a huge target for hackers.

But other than harvesting the data of both customers and real estate providers, security flaws in third-party hardware and internet of things (IoT) devices have also made proptech a gateway for hackers to physically harm a homeowner or property.

Many homes are now adopting proptech and it has become a main selling point for real estate companies. But while digital locks and key card pads are truly a step forward towards making houses more tech diverse, a determined hacker may be able to get through your security system. And the scary part is, they don’t even have to hack the security device itself. Yahoo reported that researchers at last year’s RSA conference found that the more smart devices there are in a home, the easier it is for hackers to read how these devices interact ⁠— subsequently devising a way to exploit your home security system.

How can real estate companies improve their cybersecurity strategies?

Despite the possible security flaws that proptech might harbour, there’s still a lot of calls for innovation in the real estate industry. Commercial real estate companies should not turn away from the tech needs of the customers and investors, and instead, take a proactive stance towards developing a cybersecurity strategy. In fact, specialists at Maryville University outline that we live in a data-driven world filled with uncertainties, especially in matters of cybersecurity which is why the industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. This is why industries should focus on balancing their offensive and defensive strategies. For one, ethical hacking, where you hire hackers to collectively attack your security systems can give you a visual on where the cracks in your system are. A Charles Sturt University study points out that doing this can also help you conceive an effective counter-attack strategy against malicious threats.

Of course, cybersecurity in commercial real estate needs to continually adapt to the times. Cyber threats are getting more sophisticated by the day, and ultimately, it’s up to proptech developers and the commercial real estate industry to continually develop a foolproof cyber defence strategy to protect their customers and their business.

Written by Jenkin Biff for

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