This week, realtor.com published a piece from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CEO Chris Stuart about the importance of being vigilant against cyber-crime. This important topic hits our industry, and our personal lives, daily. As Stuart points out in his guest post, “The ever-expanding tentacles of cyber-crime can create significant consequences that impact all aspects of our lives and livelihoods.” The consequences for a company can be dire.
Read more below from Chris Stuart in the article, “When ignorance ISN’T bliss,” and share with your sphere of influence so that they too may be aware of the risks associated with cyber-crime.
When ignorance ISN’T bliss
The ever-expanding tentacles of cyber-crime create significant consequences that impact all aspects of our lives and livelihoods. A casual scroll through the email inbox by an employee down at your local city offices reveals a message, “urgent update to your health insurance required.” Mistakenly, the employee clicks the attachment and unknowingly launches a silent assassin on the city’s technology network. It’s the equivalent of someone changing the password to access your phone or laptop without telling you. And, how does the city unlock the data and restore the technology network to its normal function? The city is required to pay a ransom to the hackers. The city just met ransomware.
As Jon Kamp and Scott Calvert report in their Wall Street Journal article, “Hackers Strike Another Small Florida City,” the cost of these types of attacks has quickly risen from several thousands of dollars to multi-hundreds of thousands. And, in the end, who do you think will foot the bill for these attacks? Of course, homeowners and residents of the city in the form of increased taxes or other fees to provide greater protections to the city and to offset the actual lost money.
As it relates to real estate, there is an epidemic afoot in the form of hackers commandeering the email communications between real estate agents and their clients. The aim of the hackers in this scenario is different. Their desire is to redirect the bank wires from the intended accounts to complete the real estate transaction and into their own offshore bank accounts. And, the most unfortunate reality is, they’re successful.
So, what’s the message? What you don’t know can hurt you. You should be aware of this type of behavior and ensure you’re working with a trusted real estate advisor. Your real estate agent should be able to describe what they, and their company, along with their trusted closing agency are doing to protect you and your transaction from this type of cyber-crime. Awareness is the first step, taking proactive steps to prevent these types of theft is the responsibility of every person involved in the transaction.