Enhancing client trust with good cyber hygiene

PEXA Chief Information Security Officer David Willett explains how organisations can earn client trust amidst continued cyber threats.  

Staying ahead of cyber criminals is a constant battle.

This is especially true as we enter the third year of hybrid work, with the explosion of technology usage increasing opportunities for cyber criminals.

Anyone with an online presence is a potential target of cybercrime, whether they use smart phones or a PC – and with our emails flowing 24/7, there is risk both at home and in the workplace.

Self-reported losses from reported cybercrime activities were more than $33 billion in 2020-21, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). In that same year, the ACSC reported a 13% increase in cyber-attacks, equating to an attack every eight minutes.

Residential property is Australia’s most valuable asset class, worth close to $10 trillion – so it comes as no surprise that the property sector (and the legal practitioners that operate within this space) are attractive targets for cybercriminals.

In settlement and other legal transactions, sensitive information such as bank account details are often exchanged. For this reason, the most common attacks we see taking place over email are payment redirections – where a scammer impersonates a business or an employee via email and requests that a payment be redirected, often times at the last minute.

These types of scams pose a risk to the trust between a business and their client. When a business fails to implement good cyber hygiene, they put their client’s security at risk. Despite the warnings, many organisations remain under prepared when it comes to cyber security.

Companies that invest in layered protection against cyber attacks are more resilient to breaches –prioritising people, process and technology. But there are many organisations still underprepared when it comes to cyber security.

With this in mind, it feels timely to reflect on some key learnings around secure digital customer engagement from the past few years.

    1.    Openly communicating with clients

Most clients won’t go out of their way to inform an organisation if they don’t trust or have little confidence in their digital infrastructure. As traditional industries move online, many clients are naturally sceptical of releasing their information.

An easy method is to provide frequent updates to all clients on best practice to help prevent any personal cyber attacks. It is important that both businesses, their clients and their broader networks see cyber security as a ‘shared accountability’ and not just something that the security team does. Empowering clients with the same knowledge and practices employed by organisations helps demonstrate a commitment to secure handling of customer data, but more importantly, their wellbeing.

    2.    Enhancing security postures

While open communication is the first step to gaining client trust, maintaining trust throughout a client’s journey requires an active approach.

This is especially important for clients who are familiar with a traditional face-to-face engagement.

    3.    Providing a positive experience

Maintaining open communication and investing in infrastructure to prevent cyber attacks are necessary steps towards building a client’s trust.

Providing a positive experience isn’t just about a traditional quality service, but also about ensuring clients feel satisfied and confident in a company’s security measures and digital infrastructure.

Buying and selling property is a significant commitment and requires the collection of a lot of sensitive data, not to mention the movement of large amounts of funds and its importance to the Australian economy.

Looking ahead

While it’s exciting to see the benefits and efficiencies associated with the evolving technological world, we must exercise caution with all things cyber. Cyber criminals are well organised groups that have extensive resources, they will never stop, and no one is immune.

It is so important to continue to foster a culture of shared accountability across all areas of government, business and personal lives.

Buying and selling of property is often one of the most significant and emotional transactions a person makes, and therefore it is essential that we make this life changing moment efficient, seamless and importantly secure.

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