What is the Future of Cybersecurity?
We all know of the exponential growth of cybercrimes. The question now is, how do we stay ahead of a possible data breach? Some experts in the commercial real estate have their say on what’s in store for cybersecurity.
We’ve heard of the recent Capital One hacking. A person was able to access its 100 million credit card applications and customer accounts single-handedly. Various real estate executives started scrutinizing their systems and data to determine how safe they are against cyber intrusions. By 2021, cybercrime damages can reach trillions around the world, so businesses need to be on top of the situation.
The acceleration of building processes and functions automation also increased the need for cybersecurity. The continuous takeover of the Internet of Things also pushed more information to the cloud. However, machine learning and artificial intelligence have become more efficient, thus decreasing the potential of human error. Consequently, they also increased the possibility of cyber threats. Since building technology changes each day, what then happens to cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity isn’t only a concern for computers and smartphones; but, of the entire infrastructure. The commercial real estate industry often overlooks the security of their physical assets and focuses on the interconnected devices of their employees only. Building cyber invasions have been occurring rampantly, and many operators and owners only decide to spend money on cybersecurity when hackers wreak havoc on their business.
A hacker can change the security systems, open or lock some doors, or shut down the electricity. Building owners prioritize cybersecurity when it’s too late. In the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM, it reported that it takes about 279 days to determine and control a breach. On the other hand, the lifecycle of a cyber-attack takes around 314 days.
Today, hackers perform sophisticated attacks and not only infiltrate technology and machines. Phishing schemes are after high-level deal makers and executives. A cybercriminal may write to a manager to inform him that they haven’t received the payment for a transaction he closed recently. Organizations may not be liable in this example, but the scenario is a poor reflection on them. They may have future problems handling transactions.
In the recent Commercial Real Estate Outlook released by Deloitte, it found out that the top three effects of cybersecurity breaches are:
- damage to reputation
- financial fraud and theft
- identity theft.
According to experts, the only way to reduce the cyber-attack risks on businesses and assets is to invest in an appropriate cybersecurity program. IBM estimated the total cost of a data breach to about $3.9 million. Forming an incident response team and using encryption can lessen the impact of a massive hack by about $360,000.
The success of a cybersecurity program relies on having a sustainable plan to address specific risks to the organization. Although real estate companies aren’t in the business of cybersecurity, they still must determine the risks, limitations, and budgets in countering any cyber-attacks.
In a Deloitte survey, respondents reported the top three challenges of cybersecurity management:
- rising complexities and accelerated IT changes
- lack of administration detailed response
- ineffective security fixes due to interoperability and functionality issues
Extensive prevention programs don’t need to be complicated. Executives must see cybersecurity as a timeline and not as a simple one-time incident.
Conventional IT organizations always assess different industries, but no one talks about the operational technology of buildings and their risks. Moreover, operators and owners must be proactive instead of reactive in their efforts to prepare against cyber-attacks, so cybersecurity standards must conform to the continually evolving building technology. Therefore, board members and leaders must be in the loop to create a close alignment with the business strategy. Also, they need to conduct cyber risk assessments and scenario planning and ensure employee awareness of their responsibilities. Everyone must practice vigilance.
The significance of cybersecurity will continue to evolve as a threat, and business scenarios continue to become more complex. Moreover, regulatory oversight and functions can take a more active role and must cut across geographies.
The Cybersecurity Outlook
The compelling question is, “who should be the most responsible for the cybersecurity of a real estate company?” Other people articulate that the data property owners collect from their tenants is an enormous issue because the protection of sensitive information and system data must be paramount. The staff of building management must be accountable for any specific events that can occur. On the other hand, some experts point to the IT department as the primary group that must put in place a robust cybersecurity program together with its IT infrastructure.
Building owners and operators must be aware of the risks and understand that the involvement of all functions and departments must be present in preventing or mitigating these risks of cyber-attacks.
The aptest answer lies in the middle. Many experts believe that building operators and owners must discuss with outside vendors and their internal IT providers for every property they have. They must draft a plan to protect the physical assets and the network. The solution lies when the puzzle pieces fit together. It may be the integration of a technology system into real estate or vice versa.
Excellent cyber hygiene begins with data governance. In a building organization, cybersecurity isn’t an IT issue, but a risk mitigation issue. Each individual and department has a significant role to play in thwarting any cybersecurity attacks.
Cybersecurity is an issue that concerns everyone in the commercial real estate industry. Hackers and cybercriminals perform coordinated and sophisticated attacks to ruin the most secured IT infrastructure. Therefore, organizations must take brave steps to counter them. They lose more money if they aren’t earnest in protecting their infrastructure and physical assets. This predicament isn’t the only issue that they must overcome. They also lose credibility, and their reputation suffers when they become victims of malicious and fraudulent attacks. Therefore, the significance of instituting a robust cybersecurity program is now a requirement and not just a whim.