2C — November 23 - December 13, 2018 — Owners, Developers & Managers — M id A tlantic

Real Estate Journal


O wners , D evelopers & M anagers WithumSmith+Brown, PC CRE among most vulnerable industries for cyber breaches

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EW YORK CITY, NY/ PRINCETON, NJ — Cyber fraud in com- mercial real estate not

only exists but is thriving despite continuous efforts to minimize such risks, accord- ing to the professionals in WithumSmith+Brown (With- um) PC’s Cyber and Informa- tion Security advisory group. Cybersecurity and ransomware attacks have become more am- plified industry-wide, render- ing commercial real estate one the fastest-growing targets for cyber attacks. “Commercial real estate has an over-abundance of the two things cybercriminals are af- ter – information and money,” explained Joe Riccie, partner, market leader of the Cyber and Information Security Services Group who recently served as a panelist at a real estate industry conference for chief financial officers. “In commer- cial real estate transactions, there is a lot at stake, which is why this industry and all those involved in it have be- come even more vulnerable to cybercrimes.” Last year, the FBI reported approximately $1B was stolen from buyers in real estate transactions and there was a 480% increase in inbound complaints. It is the speed at which today’s transactions oc- cur – thanks to a highly distrib- uted mobile workforce, smart technology and wire services – that unlocks commercial real estate’s level of exposure, ac- cording to Riccie. “Criminals are focused on valuable company data, infor- mation about each of the par- ties involved (ie: buyer, seller, tenants) and an entry pipeline into the financial institution/ bank providing financing for the

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Rob Kleeger, Withum’s Tony Sardis and Joe Riccie, and Robert Egan

transactions,” he said. “Once this information is accessed, hackers take it one step fur- ther to gain entry to personal account information that is then sold on the dark web or to other more sophisticated cyber criminals.” Robert Egan, a partner with Archer Law, urges cyberat- tack victims to own up to the breach and involve all neces- sary parties once the break has been discovered. "The potential breach must be investigated to ensure the hackers are out of your system," he said. "From the onset, it is important to de- termine your legal obligations and remediate all vulnerabili- ties to minimize future risks." Typically, cyber-fraud head- lines focus on financial services, healthcare and retail industry victims. “No industry is im- mune,” said Tony Sardis, part- ner and president of Withum Insurance Advisors. “Cyber- crime takes on many different forms, fromphishing scams and mobile device/computer hack- ing to inside threats posed by employees.” To protect one’s company, employees, clients and third- party service providers, Sardis urges all real estate entities to implement certain strategies

and tools to combat cyber fraud and promote cyber resiliency. He also has the following sug- gestions: • Acquire cyber insurance from a reputable company for all business activities • Require cyber insurance from your subcontractors and vendors • Report any breaches to the insurance company immedi- ately upon discovery Rob Kleeger, founder and managing director of Digi- tal4nx Group, Ltd., also ad- vocates employing certain password and authentication practices. “From encouraging longer pass phrases of at least 12 characters to utilizing pass- wordmanagement tools such as LastPass, KeePass and Dash- lane and enabling two-factor authentication whenever avail- able, it is advisable to never use the same password on more than one site,” he said. “It also is advisable to encrypt devices that store PII or confidential data.” Established in 1974, With- um is a national top-ranking public accounting firm pro- viding advisory, tax and audit services to businesses and individuals on a local- to-global scale. 

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