BOMA Canada raising awareness for cyber wellness

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
By Zandile Chiwanza

As the commercial real estate industry becomes increasingly mindful of the cyber risks in building operations, it’s critical to address existing and new cyber threats for better protection against cyber attacks.

At BOMEX 2017, BOMA’s annual conference, Cheryl Gray, executive vice-president of enterprise innovation, QuadReal Property Group approached Benjamin Shinewald, President and CEO of BOMA Canada expressing that she felt the industry could use help to be better prepared for cyber attacks. One year later, in collaboration with leaders across the industry, BOMA Canada launched the 2019 Cyber Wellness Guide, available for free in French and English, to address cybersecurity and help create more awareness about cyber wellness in commercial real estate building operations.

Understanding cyber wellness

“The complexity of building operations is only growing as the number of vendors is only increasing, the Internet of Things (IoT) is connecting various moving and non-moving parts in the building. So it’s becoming a bigger challenge for property managers, building operators and others to simply track and understand it all,” Shinewald says.

The particular challenge in the industry is that cybersecurity has been overlooked in building operations. So the guide is geared toward introducing the concept of cybersecurity planning and was deliberately written in a simple, readable manner to help managers and operational leaders of real estate have more secure and resilient systems and response plans to cyber threats.

Cyber insurance to surge in 2019

Cyber risks evolve rapidly, making it hard to ensure you have the right defences in place to protect your organization. While there are many free strategies that organizations can implement without having to purchase insurance as cyber threats become more frequent, billions of additional IoT devices come online, and operations more vulnerable, insurance will play a key role in cyber risk management strategies.

According to Mintel, the global market research firm, cyber insurance is one of the four trends set to reshape the Canadian insurance industry in 2019.  As the industry looks to defend their companies from cyber attacks rather than react to breaches, competition in the cyber insurance market will grow.

Shinewald predicts more key stakeholders, including the boards of public companies, will start asking questions about cyber wellness. The key thing he says is for building owners and managers to start thinking about cybersecurity if they have not already started looking into it by reading BOMA’s guide and other resources mentioned in it.

“Cybersecurity is not a static issue, the environment is always changing. The way to think about it is the way to think about sustainability, ordinary building operations or tenant relations,” Shinewald adds. “It is woven into what we do.”

Looking ahead, BOMA Canada will update its cyber wellness guide every year.

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