Sep 2023
Cyber Attacks Why Hackers Target the Real Estate Industry

Cyber Attacks: Why Hackers Target the Real Estate Industry

By Marc Shaw

Completing a real estate transaction requires the transfer of a variety of sensitive data, including contact information, financial statements, and Social Security numbers. For hackers and cyber criminals, this type of data represents a veritable buffet of valuable information they can use to conduct illegal activities. At World Wide Land Transfer, we urge anyone involved in a real estate transaction to be especially cautious with their sensitive data as hackers often specifically target the real estate industry for the following reasons:

Cybersecurity in the Real Estate Industry

As we mentioned, hackers are especially interested in the type of data required for real estate transactions. With a person’s Social Security number and banking information, they can potentially get loans in another person’s name or even create fraudulent identification documents that will fetch a pretty penny on the black market. 

Title Insurance companies also often make use of digital payment platforms and online document-signing apps. If a hacker can breach these systems, they may have access to potentially millions of dollars worth of client data. It is incumbent upon any Title Insurance company to arm themselves with the latest technology to protect those vulnerable areas. 

Smaller, local real estate companies may also be more vulnerable to phishing and other types of social engineering scams. A hacker may contact the company claiming to be a representative of a client’s bank or a government agency. Unless that company’s staff have been trained in specific cybersecurity protocols, they may not recognize phishing attempts or social engineering when it happens to them. Hackers may also target clients directly to obtain valuable information under pretenses.

Protecting Yourself from Cyberattacks During Real Estate Transactions

While the security of your real estate transaction data will always rely on the cybersecurity of the companies handling it, there are also some steps you can take to be personally responsible for your data security.

Data collected by Washington, DC-area cybersecurity firm PurpleSec estimates that 98% of cyberattacks involve some form of social engineering. That means hackers generally obtain the information they need by speaking directly to another person and tricking them into volunteering it, so stay vigilant whenever you are involved in a real estate transaction. Be wary of anyone who contacts you requesting sensitive information, especially if they call or email you. Before giving up any information, demand that the person contacting you verify their identity, even if it is inconvenient for them to do so. Never allow a potential identity thief to prey on your goodwill. With proper diligence, you can keep yourself safe from cyberattacks when buying, selling, or refinancing a property.

Protecting Yourself from Title Defects

Cyberattacks are not the only potential threat to your financial well-being when you are involved in a real estate transaction; title defects can also be expensive to resolve. When you are buying a home, be aware that the title insurance policy your lender required you to purchase does not cover you for any title defects; it only covers the lender. If you want to protect yourself, you will need to purchase a separate owner’s title insurance policy, and you may want to add some common endorsements that will cover some specific situations that could arise. For more information about title insurance, get in touch with World Wide Land Transfer by contacting one of the regional offices listed on our contact page. We can help you find title insurance in Maryland and most states across the country.

World Wide Land Transfer is a service-oriented PA title company with offices in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. With a record of going above and beyond, we are trusted to close everything from complex commercial transactions to residential refinance and purchase transactions.

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