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Conveyancing Association launch updated version of Cyberfraud & Fraud Protocol

The Conveyancing Association (CA), the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry, has today (20th December 2016) launched the latest version of its Cyberfraud and Fraud Protocol which seeks to provide CA member firms with practical information on how criminals operate and the measures they, and their staff, can take to avoid being victims of fraud and cyber-crime.

The original Protocol was launched in May this year, and the CA has committed to regularly reviewing and updating the document. Those firms who have adopted and adhered to the Protocol, and have been certified as ‘Cyber Safe’, also commit to ensuring they are up to date with each new iteration.

This latest version of the Protocol includes information on how firms can protect themselves against ‘Spear Phishing’ – the targeting of potentially high net worth individuals (over 55s) whose emails are intercepted to misdirect funds whilst they are known to be away from the office.

Those firms already signed up to the ‘Cyber Safe’ standard have a three-month transition period to review the changes which include further recommendations on the prevention of cloning of firms and how to comply with their obligation to clients while taking a robust anti-fraud approach.

Since the Protocol’s launch a number of CA member firms have already achieved the standards required – the latest of which is Total Conveyancing Solutions (TCS), based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire. TCS has been certified under the Cyber Essentials Scheme for IT security – a pre-requisite of meeting the Cyber Safe Standard.  

Cyber Essentials focuses on internet-originated attacks against an organisation’s IT system. It concentrates on five key controls: boundary firewalls and internet gateways; secure configuration; access control; malware protection; and patch management. Firms must be independently verified as having completed their Cyber Essentials standards before applying for a ‘Cyber Safe’ logo which they can use on their website and literature.

Achieving the Cyber Safe standard allows CA member firms to demonstrate to customers they are tackling the growing threat of fraud within the property industry. Given the large sums of money involved in the house-purchase process, criminals are actively targeting firms and their clients, and attempting to defraud them of their purchase monies.

The CA is urging all its member firms to follow the Protocol and achieve accreditation as soon as possible. By achieving this, and adopting the Cyber Safe Standard, it believes members can mitigate much of the risk that criminals using unsophisticated techniques present.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association, commented:

“Clearly when it comes to cyberfraud and fraud, the criminals do not stand still and are always looking at new ways and means to secure the large sums of money involved in the conveyancing process. This is why, when we launched the Protocol, we recognised it would evolve and update as new threats emerged. It’s our aim to ensure we offer our Cyber Safe members tangible support and advice on how they can counter such activities, and this latest version of the Protocol does just that in a number of areas.

“Those firms who are already ‘Cyber Safe’ will now have some time to meet these new requirements while any new firm seeking accreditation must adhere to everything outlined in the updated Protocol. Our committee will meet regularly throughout 2017 to review the Protocol and to decide on further new iterations and new measures based on feedback from cyber experts regarding changes in criminal behaviour and risk profiles, as well as developments in fraud prevention services provided by our affiliate members.

“We have been encouraged by the feedback received from CA firms and the growing number that are committing to the implementation of the Protocol. It’s our hope that throughout next year we will be able to announce many more CA firms as being ‘Cyber Safe’ as the more firms who meet these standards, the more protection for all involved in the conveyancing transaction.”

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