Harcourts tackles cyber piracy – Commercial real estate

The network confirmed that a Melbourne City franchisee had been the victim of a cyber incident.

According to a press release from Harcourts, the franchisee became aware on October 24 of the unauthorized access to its database of rental properties by an unknown third party.

The ABC reported that Harcourts Melbourne City had been the subject of the attack, with an email circulated to clients of the agency.

The network reported that each Harcourts office operates as an independent franchise with its own separate operating and computer systems.

It was reported that the rental property database in question contained personal information about landlords, tenants and merchants and was used by the franchisee’s service provider, Stafflink, to provide them with administrative support.

Harcourts said that in this particular instance, the rental property database was used by a Stafflink representative and accessed by an unknown third party.

The statement further explained, “We understand that the unauthorized access occurred because the Stafflink representative was using his own device for work purposes rather than a company-provided (and more secure) device.”

Weighing in on the news, Harcourts Australia chief executive Adrian Knowles apologized to those affected by the breach, saying: “We understand that people will be deeply concerned and upset by this data breach. I would like to sincerely apologize to all those who have been inconvenienced. »

He reiterated that handling this incident was the network’s “top priority”, with a thorough external investigation being conducted by cybersecurity experts, but not yet complete.

“We are working with the franchisee to ensure that all affected individuals are notified of the incident. Additionally, we are in the process of setting up free credit monitoring and access to the IDCARE Helpline for affected individuals. “, did he declare.

Mr Knowles said the group had “acted decisively to implement a full external investigation and review of [its] enterprise-wide systems and processes”.

“We have also notified the Privacy Commissioner of this breach.

“This investigation is still ongoing, and if our understanding of the impacts changes in any way, we will clarify,” he concluded.

The latest cyber incident coincides with a warning from the University of NSW that a large-scale cybersecurity breach could be “devastating” for real estate.

A Data breach in the rent is a growing concern for tenants, who routinely submit large amounts of personal information when applying for a rental. rent lodging. Transparency about how this information is used, shared and secured is often hazy.

According to a statement from the institution,Data breach in the rent is a growing concern for tenants, who routinely submit large amounts of personal information when applying for a rental. rent lodging. Transparency about how this information is used, shared and secured is often unclear.

UNSW City Futures Research Center lead researcher Dr Chris Martin says the ability of estate agents and landlords to collect large amounts of sensitive information “is a significant concern”.

He argued that now is the time to regulate data collection in the sector due to the fact that the sector “collects a lot more personal information, with arguably not much purpose behind it”.

“It’s a big risk if all this information gets into the wrong hands,” he said.

With multiple IDs, bank statements, utility bills, employment details and rental history all considered “standard requests”, he noted they are “more than enough to falsify an identity”. .

And with social media accounts, pet profiles and self-funded background checks becoming more commonplace, Dr Martin said “the type of questions asked in rental applications are becoming more more intense”.

“Candidates might not want to pass on this level of information due to privacy concerns, but they’re in a position where they have little choice,” he said.

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