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Real Estate Horizons

Real Estate Horizons is a snapshot of key legal topics and market trends across the globe.

Cyber security in real estate

By Katie Dunn and Daniel Norris

It is acknowledged by most that cyber security is of paramount importance in any technological advancement and smart cities and buildings are no different. We are increasingly reliant on sophisticated building management systems (BMS) to control every moment we spend in our workspace and leisure space, from lights and lifts to CCTV and AV.

The prioritization of cyber security is increasing, particularly after the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and potentially eye-watering fines. It’s easy to see why. Property managers should certainly consider the data they collect from tenants, employees, and service providers and ensure that they comply with the GDPR. They should also give thought to the data that they may be less aware of, such as information collected for security purposes from CCTV cameras, ID cards, passes, and security gates.

There may be an even weaker link; technological advancements mean that BMS are more integrated with occupier networks than ever before and the systems they control have become ever more connected. These cyber “bridges” linking the various services of the building not only offer a platform to launch a widespread data breach but also expose the property owner to physical disruption. It’s not difficult to imagine the chaos that could result from a hacker gaining control of the lifts, heating and cooling systems or access controls to a property.

Property owners need to ensure that they have the appropriate level of security in place, both physically and virtually. Protecting property against potential cyber breaches starts with proper maintenance of the BMS. Regular upgrades and updates to security software should be carried out to ensure the BMS continues to outpace hackers. In light of the GDPR

regime, owners and managers should review the data they hold and how they use it. Finally, they should have an eye to the future when entering new leases and insurance policies to make sure they cover the emerging risks as well as the existing.

No city or building is smart without cyber security.

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