Why a Good Lawyer is Key to Any Real Estate Professional’s Cyber Fraud Defenses

Just how sophisticated are cyber criminals nowadays? Cyber crime is a major threat to anyone using the internet, and the real estate sector is hardly immune as transactions increasingly move online. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were $6.9 billion wire and cyber fraud victim losses in 2021 alone. It’s critical that every business has best practices for cyber security in place. This article will describe the importance of working with a lawyer with cyber security training and how to protect yourself and your client against a cyber crime.

There are particular steps you can take to prevent a cybercrime from happening. The best advice is to work with real estate lawyers who have cyber insurance, cyber protocols, wire protocols, and utilize all other cyber security tools. This will ensure that your information is secure, and that you’re working with attorneys who are looking out for your best interest.

How fraudsters get your information

With the number of wire transfers going up yearly, criminals are spending more time and resources to get between people and their money. And the truth is, the bad actors who commit these crimes are getting more clever by the day. A good attorney will be familiar with all of the tactics and can advise you on how to avoid them. Below are just a few examples of tactics fraudsters use:

Phishing is a type of social engineering and refers to an attack that uses email, text messaging or a messaging service (like those on social media sites) that tricks you into taking an action, such as clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Phishing often involves a combination of solid marketing and effective social engineering.

Ransomware is a special type of malware that is actively spreading across the internet today, threatening to destroy victim’s documents and other files. The goal is to make money from your infected computer or device, perhaps by selling the data they’ve stolen from you, sending spam emails, launching denial of service attacks, or performing extortion. It can also encrypt certain files or your entire hard drive. The most common method comes in via infected attachment or link via phishing emails.

Passwords are used every day – from accessing your email and online banking to purchasing goods and accessing your smartphone. But passwords are also one of our weakest points. The most damaging compromises tend to be our personal or work email credentials. Once the criminals obtain email credentials, they can gain access and control our bank accounts, see what we are working on, and then inject themselves at the opportune moment.

Risks real estate professionals can face

Law firms and real estate lawyers have access to all of the critical information that cyber criminals want and need. While your client is preparing to close on the home of their dreams, they share access to pieces of confidential information with you. Social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and bank account information are traditionally shared throughout the process of working with a real estate attorney; it’s your job to keep all of this information out of the hands of a cyber criminal.

Data breaches, phishing, or ransomware attacks can happen if the proper steps aren’t in place to protect yourself or your clients. According to the American Bar Association (ABA) Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Information, lawyers need to “make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client”. Having a cyber security plan in action falls under the American Bar Association rule that will protect not only yourself but your clients.

Cybercrimes can happen in many different ways. For example, if you don’t have a dual authentication application in place and a cybercriminal gains access, this could be the perfect storm for a breach. If a data breach does occur it could be disastrous for your business and most importantly, your client. You can face legal action and your credibility could be compromised. If this should happen, you need to have a plan set in place to alert affected parties and reconcile the damages of the breach. Having the proper cyber insurance is critical, as this includes any payouts needed for state laws as well as any fees associated with regaining data or servers.

Hire a lawyer who practices cyber security

The best advice is to work with lawyers who have cyber insurance, cyber protocols, wire protocols, use an encrypted email and all other cyber security tools. This will ensure that not only your sensitive information is secure, but that you’re working with attorneys who are looking out for your best interest while closing a deal. The safety and confidentiality of your clients needs to be a top priority – and preventive measures are critical because once an attack occurs it could be too late to protect your clients and reputation.

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