Cyber Security: What it Means for Commercial Real Estate

UCI Center for Real Estate Breakfast Series Provides Unique Insight for CRE Pros

On January 28, NAIOP SoCal coordinated the UCI Center for Real Estate Breakfast Series which featured experts in cyber security, an increasingly important topic for all CRE professionals. Justine M Phillips, cyber attorney. Sheppard Mullin moderated a panel including: Lance Kim, special agent, FBI Los Angeles; Ken Block, general counsel, New American Funding; and Bruce Phillips, senior vice president, WEST.

Overall, the participants noted that fraud is a matter of when, not if. As many concurred, this crime will happen. Each year billions are lost due to cyber fraud, and real estate is an especially vulnerable industry. One of the most important recommendations was to reach out to the FBI and your banker now to understand their processes and establish company training protocols.

As Block shared, “We can help prevent the things we are talking about. It is good to have cyber security counsel and good to know the FBI tech experts. It comes down to training your employees, setting expectations and having processes in place to prevent fraud from happening.”

Some things of note: cyber threats prey on a sense of urgency and fraudulent messages are likely to come from a “superior” to a new employee because they want to please superiors and don’t know all the company processes yet.

After going through incidents, the FBI confirmed that most of the incidents are not technology- related hacking but simple phishing attacks. Years ago it was technology hacking and while that is still going on, the threat can be as basic as a fake email.