New data has revealed more than one in ten legal firms have fallen victim to cybercrime on property-related transactions, prompting calls for businesses to make cybersecurity a top priority for 2023.
The survey from property experts InfoTrack shows 16 per cent (%) of respondents have been impacted by cybercrime, the most common of which was phishing and pharming.
InfoTrack’s Chief Technology Officer Global, Sebastian Mill, said more than three-quarters (77%) admitted they were most worried about their client’s money being lost.
“Property transactions involve large sums of money, making conveyancing legal firms and real estate agencies attractive to cybercriminals,” Mill stated.
“Many of these businesses are small operations which don’t usually have staff dedicated to managing technology. They also hold confidential information including 100-point ID check records, such as passports and driver licences. These make them top targets for email phishing, identity theft and payment redirection scams.
“We know of cases here in Australia where scammers have impersonated solicitors in conveyancing transactions asking buyers to transfer additional funds related to stamp duty to a bank account, belonging to the criminal group.”
“If your clients suffer financial loss, you could be liable, leading to professional negligence lawsuits, increased indemnity insurance premiums, and reputational damage.”
Mill said on the back of last year’s high-profile cyberattacks against Optus and Medibank, it was positive to see 98% of respondents had implemented cyber security measures, and almost three quarters (73%) say they take cybersecurity extremely seriously.
“The safest way to ensure funds are transferred correctly and data is secure is to use an e-conveyancing workspace and a secure communication channel,” he said.
Other simple measures include using:
∙ An email provider that uses multifactor authentication, such as Office 365 or G Suite, and consider using encrypted tools like What’s App for client communication
∙ Paid antivirus software for better protection against ransomware and phishing ∙ Annual cybersecurity training for all employees, with AIC data showing 30% of data breaches are due to human error.
“There is no doubt we are approaching a period where consumers will not only ask how professionals are protecting them, but it will become an expectation of the professional’s service offering,” Mill said.
In 2022, InfoTrack helped to securely facilitate more than 58,000 property transactions through Secureexchange.