Cyber risks and commercial real estate

Ed Wlodarczyk

by Ed Wlodarczyk, president and chief executive officer
Prairie Stone Investors

Imagine a Fortune 500 executive suite’s relief as it completes a relocation of its national corporate headquarters. Such a move generally evokes ideas of future savings through the latest workplace efficiencies and technologies. Sounds like a great beginning, doesn’t it?

While commercial real estate assets do provide the space and comfort for a business to run its operations and make significant revenue, they also house many private records and data — including confidential financial information that, if penetrated or compromised, could cause significant corporate and personal loss.

Cyber attacks, which are prevalent in our society today and which will remain so in the future, pose a significant risk to the occupiers and owners of commercial real estate. It is paramount that occupiers, owners, managers and practitioners develop a cyber security plan that insures the safety and complete privacy of data and records housed on servers throughout the asset. All operating building systems, HVAC and smart utilities are likewise vulnerable to compromise, and accordingly require connectivity with the management control networks to minimize risk.

It is highly recommended that prior to the time staff and employees move into a new location, the occupier hires an independent third party that specializes in cyber security to perform a vulnerability or penetration test/study of the occupiers’ systems. Likewise, owners and managers can establish protocols and add security products that will help secure the tenants’ space before occupancy.

While many real estate firms recommend outsourcing data storage, it should be noted that any utilization of a third party vendor will require the same accountabilities that the occupier has deemed relevant to its security protocol.

Just as we all buy health and property insurance policies to protect us from the many personal risks we face, it is imperative that we consider cyber security risks, too, and prioritize insuring the safety and integrity of data we hold in commercial real estate assets. This study will point out the deviancies in current systems and recommend fixes and procedural enhancements that, when implemented and maintained on a regular basis, will protect a firm’s systems from external attacks.

Ed Wlodarczyk, is a commercial real estate executive and consultant. He the president and chief executive officer of Prairie Stone Investors, a founding team member of Bespoke Real Estate Advisors.

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