Is Cyber Security a Real Concern for Estate Agents?

With the recent news of large UK companies such as Foxtons and British Airways having suffered cyber attacks, resulting in thousands of client records being leaked, one can only wonder how are the small businesses coping with the cyber threat?

Cybersecurity statistics you must know

A recent study undertaken by Hiscox revealed that nationally, small businesses across the UK are targeted, with an average of 65,000 cyber attacks per day. Most of the attack attempts fail, however one small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds, resulting in costs of £25,700 in remedial procedures, fines and compensations.

37% of UK companies have reported a single or in some instances multiple data breach incidents to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past 12 months.

Out of those businesses who have suffered a cyber attack, 96% report that the breach has in some way or another negatively impacted their business. 33% say they lost customers due to the breach.

One in every 3,722 emails in the UK is a phishing email. Considering that half of cyberattacks in the UK involve phishing, this number is by no means satisfactory.

The highest fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office so far are £183 million to British Airways for violations under the General Data Protection Regulation. Followed by the Marriott hotel chain with £99 million.

The average small business now devotes more than a fifth of its IT budget to cyber security.

Is the Property industry targeted more?

The unfortunate answer to this question is yes. A number of factors make the Property industry an attractive and relatively easy target for cyber criminals. Those include the following:

  • Property letting or sale process involves exposing and exchanging highly sensitive information
  • Over 90% of Estate Agents don’t have the budget for first-class cybersecurity products and services
  • Average staff turnover around 18-20 months
  • Irregular training due to a highly repetitive workflow
  • Financial transactions of large amounts take place on regular basis

How can you stay protected?

Being protected comes down to two main factors, being aware and being prepared. We’ve covered the first one for you and will share the top tips on how to minimise the risk of becoming a victim of a cyber attack.

The basics:

  • Invest in Cyber Security services and software from a reputable provider.
  • Develop a basic Policy with clearly outlined processes on how to protect client’s data.
  • Conduct regular training sessions on Cyber Security, its importance and ways to stay safe online.
  • Introduce password protection for sensitive documents.
  • Limit the levels of access to sensitive information amongst the staff members.
  • Keep the anti-virus software is updated to the latest version at all times.
  • Safely dispose of no longer needed client data.
  • Consider purchasing professional indemnity insurance for the property sector with option to include cyber insurance.


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