Real Estate Journal — Owners, Developers & Managers — Industry Leaders — December 27 - January 16, 2020 — 7B


M id A tlantic

Industry Leaders

Resolve to Make Education and Preparedness Top Priorities for 2020 Happy Holidays! Cybercriminals are targeting your company


eadlines about data breaches, ransom- ware attacks, the

tions for protecting against it. For starters, firewalls are stronger and anti-virus soft- ware is smarter than ever before. And, thanks to cloud computing, updates can be delivered to end users in real time. Beyond these “traditional” means, today’s best cyber- crime defenses include even more layers of protection – notably autonomous endpoint protection security software. End points are personal com- puters, network servers and other devices connected to the Internet. When they are exposed, systems and data be-

come vulnerable. Unlike tra- ditional anti-virus solutions, advanced end-point protection platforms do not require prior knowledge of an attack in order to detect and remediate it. They apply machine learn- ing and artificial intelligence to continuously outflank at- tackers. Still, the best technology protections will not stop an employee from clicking on an infected link. Building knowl- edge is building power when it comes to minimizing hu- man error. Education should be ongoing – not a one-time thing – and integrated in the

on-boarding of new staff mem- bers as well as ongoing com- munication and testing of the entire team. Implementing an acceptable use policy (how em- ployees are permitted to use company-owned PCs, devices, software, Internet access and e-mail) is also paramount in today’s environment. Of course, no defense is iron- clad. To that end, having a business-class continuity plan is vital for protecting data. In the case of a ransomware at- tack (which Verizon identifies as a top variety of malicious software), you won’t have to pay a crook if duplicate files

are available. Just remember: the worst time to test your continuity is when you desper- ately need it to work. It requires special expertise to create, maintain and evolve a multi-prong approach to cybersecurity, which is why so many companies do not. Even if you have a trusted IT person or company who put your current network in place, it never hurts to get a third party to validate that nothing was overlooked. Michael Mullin is presi- dent of Integrated Busi- ness Systems (IBS) in Totowa, NJ. 

latest phish- ing schemes a nd o t h e r online crimi- n a l a c t i v - ity certainly cause pause for thought. H o w e v e r , in the fast-

Michael Mullin

paced commercial real estate world, pressing deadlines and busy schedules can quickly re-direct attention back to day-to-day tasks. And, quite frankly, with the volume of cybercrime news in the feed it is easy to become desensitized Do not get complacent. Yes, it COULD happen to you. In fact, the likelihood that your company will be (or has already been!) in the sights of a cybercriminal is strong. With a new year knocking on the door, this is a great time to take a look at how to minimize your vulnerability. The world of cybercrime and the associated protections are constantly evolving. Your knowledge must, too. Let’s start by looking at how professional-sector businesses – like commercial real estate – are typically targeted. Ve- rizon’s 2019 Data Breach In- vestigations Report notes that among cybercrime attempts and incidents, 69% generated from an outside source, while 34% were launched in-house – by an employee with bad intent or by a team member who simply made a mistake (such as clicking through on a phishing email). Fifty-two percent of attacks involved hacking, 33% included social attacks and 28% involved malware. Further, most compromises took just minutes to initi- ate, yet more than half were not discovered for months or more, according to the Ve- rizon report. Sound scary? It is. From hog-tied employee productivity, to compromised data, to legal and financial ramifications, to reputational loss, cybercrime is a serious threat to businesses of all sizes, across all industries. Small businesses are particu- larly vulnerable – accounting for 43% of companies involved in breaches, per Verizon. The good news is that just as cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated, so are the solu-

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