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16% of firms have been impacted by cyber crime on property transactions

Research from property technology company InfoTrack shows that more than one in 10 law firms have fallen victim to cyber crime on property-related transactions.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 02 February 2023 SME Law
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A new survey from InfoTrack, which features feedback from over 100 respondents, shows that 16 per cent of legal practices have seen the impacts of cyber crime — most notably, phishing and pharming.

The results follow high-profile cyber attacks in Australia in the second half of last year, most significantly the data breaches experienced by Optus and Medibank, which have both resulted in class action investigations being brought against those corporate behemoths.

Speaking about the survey, InfoTrack chief technology officer Sebastian Mill (pictured) said that more than three in four (77 per cent) of law firms admitted in their responses that they are most worried about the potential loss of client money.


“Property transactions involve large sums of money, making conveyancing legal firms and real estate agencies attractive to cyber criminals,” he outlined.

“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, he said, 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,” Mr Mill continued.

“If your clients suffer financial loss, you could be liable, leading to professional negligence lawsuits, increased indemnity insurance premiums, and reputational damage.”

However, he went on, it was positive to learn in the survey that almost all (98 per cent) of respondents have already implemented cyber security measures, and nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) said they are taking cyber-related issues “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,” Mr Mill submitted.

Moreover, he advised, firms can use email providers that utilise multi-factor authentication, antivirus software for better protection against ransomware and phishing, and host annual cyber security training for all employees to minimise 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,” he warned.