Protecting yourself from cybercrime in the property industry

There’s no denying cybercrime is on the rise, and it has become more important than ever to put measures in place to protect yourself online.

In 2022, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Scamwatch announced there was a 16.5% decrease in the number of scam reports, however the financial loss to scams for Australians was a record $3.1 billion. This was an 80% increase to the total amount lost to scams in 2021. Whist this data shows that there are less scam reports, the severity of scams is escalating and everyday Australians are taking the financial hit.

This alert also showed that investment scams topped the list with $1.5 billion lost. Remote access scams were second with a $229 million loss and payment redirection scams followed with a $224 million loss.

With all the different types of scams becoming more pervasive, the property industry has alarmingly become a prime target in recent years. Hackers are becoming progressively smarter with their ability to intercept emails and phish sensitive information, which has resulted in significant financial loss throughout a property transaction.  

As a legal representative operating in the property industry, we explore measures you can consider implementing to keep yourself and your clients safe from cybercrime.

Back to basics with cyber security

Putting measures in place to protect yourself online doesn’t have to be a complex process. According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, learning the basics can help improve your cyber security and reduce the consequences of cyberattacks.

Some of the effective ways you can protect yourself online include:

  • Using multi-factor authentication to ensure important accounts and devices have an added layer of security. This makes it harder for anyone else to access your accounts.
  • Ensure your devices are up to date. Updated devices have newer security features and improved software, making it harder for cybercriminals to hack.
  • Set secure passwords. Choosing unique and strong passwords is an important element of cyber security. Using a longer combination of letters, numbers and symbols makes it harder for someone else to guess. It’s ideal to avoid using personal information when setting a password, as this can be common knowledge and easier to guess.
  • Back up your files and information regularly to ensure you can recover data in the event your device fails, or you’re hacked. Cloud based services are a great way to back up data or you can use an external hard drive.

Protecting your firm and your clients

As the property industry is a prime target for hackers, it’s important to do everything you can to protect yourself and your clients during a property sale. Due to cybercriminals intercepting emails and updating account information, property deposit funds have been redirected into fraudulent bank accounts. If your firm is exchanging sensitive information by email or SMS, you may be vulnerable to this situation, which can lead to serious financial loss for clients and have extreme consequences on your reputation.

Innovative technology is now available primarily to prevent this issue. Securexchange is an award-winning platform that provides premium protection from cybercrime and enhances collaboration and transparency throughout a property transaction. Lawyers and conveyancers connect with real estate agents and property buyers and sellers in one digital workspace, where all users are legit and verified using multi-factor authentication. You can safely share confidential information, trust fund details and sign and exchange contracts in the platform.

Lee Bailie, Head of Property Australia at InfoTrack explained, “with the length cybercriminals are going to, it’s critical that measures are put in place to protect yourself and your clients. Securexchange supports secure property transactions and prevents the risk of email fraud and stolen funds, providing peace of mind to you and your clients.”  

Protect yourself and your clients with Securexchange