The reports reveals…
Law firms could be better protecting themselves against cybercrime when it comes to property transactions says tmgroup, after its survey revealed only 13 per cent of businesses agreed ‘they had spent a lot of time and money securing their communications.’
Over 100 IT decision makers in the legal, property and conveyancing sectors took part in the survey to reveal how the industry is securing its technology and clients against cybercrime in the digital age. The company has today launched its report; ‘Protect and Survive: Risk and Cyber Security in the Property Sector’, to identify the steps those in the industry need to take to protect themselves and their clients.
As commercial property lawyers and those working in real estate know, property transactions have long been at risk, as the recent Friday Afternoon Fraud case of Howard Mollett found. The home buyer had £67,000 of his lifesavings stolen after cyber criminals intercepted emails. Despite this high-profile case, the tmgroup report highlights that 58 per cent of law firms said they felt ‘not that threatened’ (47 per cent) and one in ten were ‘not threatened at all’ (11 per cent) by the prospect of cyber-attacks.
Jon Horton, from tmgroup said: “With so many important and highly-sensitive documents being shared between a solicitor and a client, there is an area of risk. Traditionally, this sharing has been done by an open exchange of email that can be intercepted, or by post, which is also susceptible to theft. Securing your perimeter is important. It’s not a case of ‘if’ it will happen, it’s more of a case of when, so risk mitigation and management is extremely important.
“Whilst a duty of care falls on the solicitor to manage their clients’ expectations when it comes to security, their client may not necessarily be aware of the dangers when it comes to property transactions. Clients need to be made aware that they could be vulnerable to a cyber-attack, while law firms should be embracing change and the use of new security technology to reinforce their systems.”
While larger firms appear to be more switched on to the threat of cybercrime, small to medium firms should be looking to take a leaf out of their book to better protect their systems. Firms of all sizes could see significant implications securing personal property transactions when the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018. The new rules will considerably increase law firms’ obligations and responsibilities to maintain the cyber security of client data.
One way to ensure clients’ data is more robust is to use automated systems that not only cut the risk of human error at input stage, but also act as an additional barrier to opportunist cyber criminals. However, only 29 per cent of respondents with more than 500 employees said there was nothing holding them back from automating their processes, suggesting instigating change at larger firms did present the biggest challenge.
When law firms feel automation is being held back, the barriers they cite most often are the cost of upgrading systems (29 per cent), concerns about cyber security (19 per cent) and technical challenges (17 per cent). These are probably the most typical ‘fear factors’ when it comes to implementing any new project involving IT – that it could be expensive, unsecure and too complicated.
Horton adds: “This survey has raised some concerning trends, most worryingly that some law firms do not appear to consider the possibility that unsecured communications could be undermining their transactions. Conveyancing solicitors need to look at the bigger picture when it comes to protecting their clients and their law firm, considering solutions that not only reduce the risk of human error, but also secure their communications to safeguard their reputation in the commercial and real estate sectors.
That way, when a client starts to ask detailed cyber security questions they can be reassured that their financial and personal information will not be jeopardised.”