The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is responsible for strengthening Australians cyber resilience and building awareness in both the business and consumer sectors.  This group manages “ReportCyber”, a government initiative which facilitates the reporting of cybercrime incidents and scams against Australians. Up until June 2020, the group saw over 57,000 reports of cybercrime in a 12-month period, equating to over 160 incidents every day![1]

Cyber criminals follow the money, and in doing so, aim to capture personal details.  In the sale of a property; bank details, personal details and large money transactions are shared between the Real Estate Agent, the conveyancer or Lawyer, lender, and the individuals who are buying/selling.  It is not uncommon for these details to exchange hands multiple times – each time providing an opportunity for a cyber criminal to intercept an email, impersonate a party or change bank account details.  Additionally, the sale of a property is publicly advertised online in order to draw interest and demand, which means it can also bring a very unwanted attention from cyber criminals. As such, the question is how ready are you if this unwanted attention is focused on a property or person you are professionally representing?

The scale and sophistication of cyber-attacks is developing faster than we have ever been seen before. Relying on your insurance is simply not enough and the expectation from your client is you must protect them.  It is essential that you protect your business, reputation and most importantly your clients. A PWC report indicated 85% of consumers will not do business with a company if they have concerns about their security practices.[2]  Processes, platforms, and protective measures are out there, and businesses have a responsibility to access these to put effective barriers in place.

The ACCC reported that Australians lost over $634 million to scams in 2019[3].  It anticipated this will grow and impact broader businesses in the coming years.  There are lucrative underground marketplaces that focus on cybercrime. Cybercrime-as-a-service (Caas) allows organised crime groups to hire hackers specific to a market or industry that they wish to target.  This was actively seen in the first two weeks of the impact of COVID-19 in March 2020, where over 45 pandemic themed cybercrime incidents were reported.

The government has committed to investing over $1.3 billion in the aim of boasting protection and building cyber awareness for all Australians. This is also expected to see greater emphasis on businesses to maintain adequate protection in all transactions to protect their clients. In FY2020 nearly 40% of cybercrime reports involved fraud of some nature, closely followed by identity crime.  Interestingly Queensland lead the number of reported incidents, closely followed by Victoria and then New South Wales.  The top types of attacks included Ransomware, Phishing attacks, and business email compromise.[4]

There are some simple solutions businesses can look to help protect themselves:

  1. Utilise multi factor authentication to ensure you are communicating with the correct person.
  2. Put stringent password policies in place in your organisation.
  3. Consider using an appropriate email gateway to block spam and potential attacks.
  4. A Virtual Private Networks is a secure way to encrypt your remote connection when not office bound.
  5. Most importantly make cyber security a whole issue for the business and build a culture of awareness – it is not just IT’s challenge, it is everyone’s responsibility.

Currently focused on a property transaction, Securexchange is a complimentary service that offers a secure platform where all parties can safely share and receive confidential and sensitive information.  A lawyer, conveyancer or real estate agent can invite their client into a secure workspace where they are able to securely share trust account details to pay a deposit, request bank details to pay funds to the consumer’s bank account, digitally sign documents and contracts of sale to exchange or complete on a property transaction.  It is unique in the market right now and backed by guarantee up to $500,000.

The responsibility to protect your business, your reputation and your clients is more important than ever before. Processes, products and solutions are available and can easily be built into your existing workflow to be used by your teams. If you would like more information, register for a complimentary account with Securexchange today.

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[1] ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report July 2019 to June 2020: https://www.cyber.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-09/ACSC-Annual-Cyber-Threat-Report-2019-20.pdf

[2] Consumer Intelligence Series: Protect.me https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumer-intelligence-series/cybersecurity-protect-me.html

[3] ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report July 2019 to June 2020: https://www.cyber.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-09/ACSC-Annual-Cyber-Threat-Report-2019-20.pdf

[4] ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report July 2019 to June 2020: https://www.cyber.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-09/ACSC-Annual-Cyber-Threat-Report-2019-20.pdf