In the past, hackers would majorly target retailers, but nowadays, it seems that the pendulum has swung, and they’ve become more diverse. As they say, no industry is immune to cybersecurity risks and privacy. One of such industries that are no exception is the real estate industry.

It’s an unexpected scenario that the real estate industry is grabbing the headlines as a target for hackers. The reason being, it doesn’t present the best source of data (at first sight) that hackers can exploit. In fact, it was assumed that the real estate industry literally has nothing to offer to hackers in the past.

Unfortunately, now it seems that’s not the case anymore – instead, it’s proving to offer too much that hackers have even turned their attention to the industry.

An Easy Target!

But there must be something making it a soft target. So, is the real estate industry an easy target?

The truth is that most real estate industries aren’t prepared to prevent or mitigate cyber-attacks. In fact, unlike books and hospitals, there’s no actual law for real estate industries to require them to implement security protocols to protect information and their systems.

Therefore, most real estate businesses are vulnerable to hackers.

Moreover, an average real estate employee or agent doesn’t consider security risks to be a big deal. That way, they become vulnerable too. Therefore, to ensure that real estate industries are secure, it’s more important than ever to ensure that the employees understand the significance and risks of cyber-attacks.

Also, most real estate firms are still in the past, whereby they are implementing outdated as well as non-cloud friendly network solutions. When such solutions run infrastructures, they cannot fend off the modern security risks, and hence the sophisticated attacks are unhandled.

What makes the Real Estate Industry a Target for Hackers?

Unlike in the past, it has come to most folk’s attention that the amount of personal data that’s stored by real estate is immense. Think about personal information, bank accounts, contracts, and many other details – there’s no denying that the real industry is indeed the real deal for hackers.

It’s one of the industries with a huge number of financial transactions involving sensitive information. Interestingly, hackers are finding it cheap to access such data, thanks to the fact that real estate industries aren’t up on cybersecurity yet.

For instance, the attack on First American, a title insurance giant, in 2019 is an excellent example. It’s an attack that exposed sensitive data of more than 885 million customers.

Types of Attacks that Hackers Use to Take Down their Victims

For hackers, taking down their victims requires patience. They’ve mastered the skill of learning the behavior of their target and then run phishing campaigns that gather personal information that they use to exploit various accounts of the real estate sellers, buyers, agents, and anyone involved in a sales process.

So, what ways do hackers use to gather information? Here are some of the common attacks used;


One of the most common routes is via ransomware – an attacker sends malicious emails to their target, hoping that they’ll click on that link provided in the email. If the target clicks on the link, they simply open the way for the hacker to encrypt all the data.

The end result is simple; all the data is blocked, and the owner can’t access it, meaning it’s unusable. The only way to retrieve it is by paying the ransom that the hacker asks for.

Business Email Compromise

Another popular attack is a (BEC) business email compromise attack. It’s an attack whereby an attacker convinces an enterprise to wire funds to their accounts by pretending to be a business counterpart.

In most cases, they take the personality of a real estate vendor or seller. They simply send fake emails from the spoofed account, and it might look like some official CEO, an attorney, or an escrow agent. In fact, according to the FBI report, more than $3 billion in losses have been as a result of business email attacks.

In-House Data Management

With the real estate industry, there’s no federal law that requires them to implement security programs. Therefore, without the proper regulations, most real estate businesses have IT infrastructure with poorly integrated tools and applications. That way, the real estate businesses are vulnerable to attacks.

Third-Party and Cloud Computing Vendors

The news about real estate attacks is not new, and for that reason, most of the real estate industries have moved their applications and data into cloud servers. Unfortunately, even the cloud vendors are not immune to hackers.

In fact, hackers don’t need to hack a business to acquire the data; they only target the cloud vendors. Even though the cloud offers benefits, it also comes with security risks.

Choosing a top-notch free cloud service provider is not the end of everything, as the cloud provider can as well get attacked and your data get stolen.

Moreover, most real estate companies have a huge supply chain. They work with various third-party vendors that require a constant exchange of valuable data. In that case, if the security standards of the partner don’t meet the company’s standards, then the consequences can be severe.

How to Protect Your Real Estate Company from Cyber-Attack

The writing is on the wall that the real estate industry is a target for cybercriminals. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that it should be protected from hackers as much as possible. So, how can it be achieved?

Create New Policies

By creating new policies, the agency steps up its preparedness for attacks. For instance, to combat BEC scams, the company can come up with a new policy that clearly states not to wire money to an individual based on the information only provided via email.

Create Awareness across the Organization

Creating awareness about the risks of cyber-attacks within the organization is an excellent way to counter-attack hackers. It can be done by educating employees on ways to recognize an attack and any other form of a data breach.

Also, the employees should be instructed on what they should do right after an attack has happened. Ideally, preparedness can make a difference to the success of a business handling a cyber-attack.

Backup Systems

Sometimes, it might be challenging to prevent a cyber-attack entirely, and therefore, as a business, you don’t have to take any risks. It’s imperative always to back up your data. That way, in case your system is hacked, you won’t be compelled to pay the ransom; you’ll only quickly restore your data.

Final Thought

More than ever, the real estate industry is on the radar of hackers. The reason being, it offers plenty of opportunities for hackers with bank transfers, customer personal information, minimal education around tech, and the fact that they usually struggle with visibility.

Hackers then take advantage of that and attack via ransomware, Business Email Compromise, generic malware, cloud computing providers, and mortgage closing wire scam. The best way a real estate organization can counter such attacks is by formulating new policies, training staff by creating awareness, backing up systems, and bettering cloud computing contracts. It’s time for the real estate industry to take its space in controlling cyber-attacks!