The real estate industry has warned of the upsurge in cybercrime

Recent events in the real estate industry have highlighted the importance of having a solid plan in place if you are the victim of a cyber attack.

With the increase of remote working, computer systems have become more vulnerable and cybercrime has increased. Figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau show that between January and October 2021, around 24,000 cybercrime cases were reported, representing reported losses of over £ 11million. The cases range from incidents of hacking, computer viruses, malware and spyware.

Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at the Guild of Property Professionals, says the increase in cybercrime and recent issues in the industry should be a warning to agents to be extra vigilant and make sure they have put procedures in place to protect their systems. against cybercrime.

Offley explains: “Cybercrime is more prevalent than ever, and given that officers hold a considerable amount of sensitive data, it is essential that all possible precautions are taken to avoid a potential incident. If large businesses are susceptible to infiltration, how more vulnerable are small businesses such as an independent agent, which may have less robust cyber defenses. Due to higher levels of cyber criminal activity, there has been an increase in cyber insurance premiums, as well as insurers requesting more information and introducing more stringent risk management procedures. “

He adds that cyber liability is generally not included in professional liability (PI) insurance and should not be seen as an alternative to a stand-alone cyber liability policy covering losses primarily and to third parties. With the growing threat of cyber attacks, greater reliance on technology, and the type of sensitive information held by agents, agents should consider adding cyber liability to their insurance program if they don’t. haven’t already.

Offley says: “The majority of companies will only consider cyber liability after they have experienced an incident, which is obviously too late. Considering the high number of cybercrime related crimes that we have seen in the UK over the past year, it is advisable to be rather proactive and have a comprehensive cyber liability policy in place before an incident does not occur. It’s a small price to pay for the reassurance of having support when you need it in the worst case.

“Cyber ​​liability policies include instant response coverage, and it is this section of coverage that is so important to help mitigate any additional threats. If your systems are crippled for a week or more, it is impossible to quantify the financial loss and damage to your company’s reputation. “

He adds that while no one is safe from cyber attacks, it is best to be prepared and reduce the risk where possible. Basic controls to help reduce a potential violation include:

Regular password updates on all devices.
Password Complexity – use different passwords for different accounts.
Never share passwords.
Two-factor authentication, if applicable.
Training staff to be aware of phishing emails and the damage they cause. One in 3,722 emails in the UK is a phishing attempt. About half of UK cyber attacks involve phishing.
Software updates.
Make sure the files are encrypted.
Monitoring of mobile and home work procedures
Under no circumstances should a payment be made to a new bank account without verbal confirmation that the account details are genuine.
Cyber ​​liability insurance

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