Cyberattacks are making the news worldwide, including those focused on the real estate industry.
Late last year, an attack on a UK service provider left hundreds of agents unable to process property sales for days.
Though the incident happened halfway across the globe, the Australian real estate landscape should take notice.
A cybercrime was reported to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) every six minutes in 2023 – a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.
Many of these attacks targeted Australia’s small business community, including real estate agents and small agencies.
Why real estate agents?
Small businesses are a favourite target of cyber criminals, and the nature of real estate may make the industry even more enticing to them.
Real estate agents often have large client lists, filled with sensitive information such as ID numbers, email addresses and payment details.
Cybercriminals can use this information to steal someone’s identity, initiate fraudulent bank transactions, or target more individuals.
Dealing in high-value transactions also makes real estate agents compelling cybercrime targets.
False billing scams were the third most common reported to the National Anti-Scam Centre (Scamwatch) in 2023, costing Australians more than $26 million.
Real estate transactions are often time sensitive.
Delays can be costly, and cybercriminals can use this to their advantage.
Ransomware, a type of malicious software, can be used to lock agents out of their systems until a ransom is paid.
Many businesses may feel like they have no choice but to pay in order to meet crucial deadlines.
Though the factors above are appealing to cybercriminals, simply being a small business is more than enough reason for many.
Small businesses are generally easy targets for several reasons – you might be unable to spot many cyber threats, you may not have the time or budget to make cybersecurity a priority, and you might rely on third-party partners to run your business.
Any of these factors is enough to put your real estate agency in the crosshairs.
What can agents do?
Staying ahead of cybercriminals is tough, but even small steps can help protect your real estate agency.
Learning how to spot common cyber threats and scams is a good place to start.
Spotting dodgy emails, messages and calls can help you avoid becoming a cybercrime statistic.
The cyber.gov.au website has many free resources to help educate you and your staff.
Protecting your systems is also essential.
Installing anti-virus software, firewalls, and security updates can help secure the computers and mobile devices you rely on to run your agency.
Regularly backing up business files can help you avoid data loss if a cyber incident does occur.
Finally, consider consulting with a cybersecurity expert if your budget allows.
They can provide more tips for keeping your real estate agency cyber-safe and take more advanced steps in securing it.
Consider Cyber Liability insurance
The cost of cybercrime is rising, with the ASD seeing an average increase of 14 per cent per report in 2023.
That translates to an average of $46,000 per incident for small businesses and $97,200 for medium businesses.
That’s no small amount, which is why many real estate agents protect their businesses with Cyber Liability insurance*.
A Cyber Liability policy covers losses from claims arising from data breaches, business interruption and remediation costs following an actual or threatened data breach.
Your policy could help you pay expenses related to a cyber incident, such as investigating how it occurred and notifying affected clients.
Cyber Liability insurance can also provide crucial assistance in the aftermath of a cyberattack.
Twenty-four-hour incident response services offered with many policies help contain and reduce the impact of an attack and help your agency recover.
Protect your agency with BizCover
Cyberattacks are a growing threat to Australian real estate agents, but taking steps to make your business more cyber-safe could help you avoid falling victim.
But if you’re still targeted, despite your best efforts, Cyber Liability insurance can provide a useful safety net.
BizCover makes it simple for real estate agents to add Cyber Liability to their insurance portfolios.
Compare quotes online and buy in minutes to get instant cover.
While you’re looking, why not see if you can save on your Professional Indemnity and Public Liability policies as well?
Switch and save with BizCover today—visit bizcover.com.au or call 1300 249 268.
* This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.