The commercial real estate market is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of occupiers. One key area of focus in recent years has been on security which has become a major concern for many businesses, particularly in the wake of high-profile incidents such as data breaches and cyber-attacks.
Occupiers want to ensure that the office space they utilise is equipped with the latest cyber-security measures to protect their employees and assets. For landlords, this means taking a holistic view to technology, which is the best way to ensure digital and cyber-security.
Having read our recent research Real Estate | Complexity in the Office Market, Dan Hughes, Director of Digital Property Risk Ltd, shares his insight below on cyber-security and gives advice on how property owners should manage digital risk.
There is little doubt that technology is at the heart of an effective office building and the wide range of benefits are highlighted in the recently published essensys report. However, one statistic really stood out – “95% of Chief Executives are concerned about a data security breach at their organisation.”
Alongside the multiple benefits of technology, the digital risks that buildings face must also be considered by all property owners, managers and users.
Data security breaches are but one of the growing digital risks a building faces. Hardware and software systems are often not compatible with each other and building operations can fail without power or wifi. Data privacy issues also crop up as we collect more data on the people and businesses within a building. At the more extreme, buildings face the risk of cybercrime, they can face reduced building safety from failing technology or even data manipulation to influence buyer decisions and values.
As buildings evolve from dumb concrete blocks to the smart platform of the future, we need to make sure that we effectively manage the risks that this presents. One of the challenges that we face is culture. As real estate professionals we are, by our very nature, evidence based, low risk, slow and stable. This is not a criticism, it is exactly the culture you want in someone who is designing, building or managing a building. But the culture that we need to embrace technology is the antithesis of that needed for real estate. It requires a fast moving, fail fast and future looking culture.
As buildings become ‘smarter’ and more connected, we need to make sure that our real estate culture is effectively combined with the technology culture.
This is being recognised by industry bodies. For example, the International Building Operation Standard published (IBOS) by RICS in 2022 states “…it is also important that the digital risks to the building and users are considered, and that the data collected is used in an ethical way. A professionally managed building should aim to have a documented register of the largest digital risks it faces, and the steps that can be taken to manage them.”
So, if you are a property owner, user or manager and you want to get on the front foot, what should you do about it? The first thing is to make sure that you have a register of the digital assets that you have in the building. Secondly, create a risk register of what could go wrong, the likely impact and what you can do about it.
Exploring what can go wrong can feel a little scary, but there are plenty of people to help – once you have an asset and risk register in place, just talking to your existing technology providers is a good starting point.
Many of the digital risks that buildings face are fairly cheap and easy to avoid in advance, but extremely difficult and costly to deal with in hindsight.
Security is becoming increasingly important to modern occupiers when considering what office space to use, where nearly two thirds (63%) of office workers stated they were concerned about the security of their organisations data that is accessed via in-office WiFi.
Landlords need to be aware of these changing priorities and those who are proactive in addressing potential security risks/concerns will be well positioned for stability and success in the future.
Find out more by downloading our report Real Estate | Complexity in the Office Market.
Dan is Director of Digital Property Risk Ltd, Alpha Property Insight and Founder of the Real Estate Data Foundation.