News & Opinions
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Cyber Attack: How to Defend Against a Data Breach
Linsey Isaacs / MULTIFAMILY EXECUTIVE / June 26, 2013
As the U.S. government’s international pursuit of Edward Snowden captivates the nation, multifamily owners face their own cyber security threat every day, right in their own backyard.
There’s no shortage of news stories about security breaches—whether it happens to Facebook, a retail chain or a credit card company—with sensitive consumer information being spread into cyberspace. Yet, many multifamily owners have yet to take that same risk seriously.
“I do think this is a serious concern for multifamily owners,” says Kevin Smith, vice president of Philadelphia-based insurance brokerage firm The Graham Co. “All you have to do is look at their [apartment] application and the kind of data they collect on that app, and that’s where they’re vulnerable. And I don’t think they think about it in that regard because we haven’t had that big front page story about a property owner having all their information breached.”
It used to be as simple as securing filing cabinets to protect data from paper applications, such as social security numbers. But as information technology grows more sophisticated the threat has elevated, to the point where it’s become a legitimate insurance claim.
Once in the hands of a hacker, sensitive data can be sold to a third party, presenting cyber-liability issues once property owners essentially “allow” the breach to happen. But the loss of information can occur easily, and doesn’t have to happen maliciously, says Jeanne Wermurth, senior technical specialist with Graham.
“It could be someone internally losing something,” Wermurth says. “They take the laptop home, they leave it in the car, and the car gets stolen. They take a box of papers on the train, they leave it there, and it’s gone. You don’t know what happens to that information after it leaves your hands.”