The Conveyancing Association, an official body in Britain whose members handle one in five property transactions in Britain, has advised solicitors to stop communicating sensitive information by email. The advice comes on the back of a recent spate of conveyancing fraud cases.
They estimate that at least 85% of cyber intrusions involve criminals using unsophisticated techniques such as hacking into solicitors’ or clients’ emails then faking emails from one party to the other.
To promote this the Conveyancing Association has launched a Cyber Safe Scheme to help conveyancing firms tackle the threat of fraud within the house purchase process and to help reduce customers’ exposure to fraudulent activity. Included in its advice is tips on website security, with the main feature being “do not communicate with clients via email”.
The threats described by the Conveyancing Association are relevant in the South African property industry, with a number of such incidents making the news in recent months.
Though one of their recommendations is the use of “snail mail”, this remains impractical in the South African context with existing systems like GhostConvey and the reputed unreliability of the South African Post Office.
GhostConvey has the following secure communication channels:
- Chat: Linked GhostConvey attorneys can communicate and share documents securely from within GhostConvey.
- Guarantee Hub: ABSA Guarantee Hub provides a secure platform where linked attorneys can share requests for guarantees and issued guarantees against Absa bonds – with more banks to follow suit.
- GhostTracker: GhostConvey attorneys can invite buyers, sellers and other stakeholders to communicate and share documents via a secure website called GhostTracker where these parties would have to log in with a username and password.
These communication channels are secured by means of the Korbitec Gateway platform – the same technology that banks trust to secure their communication with the bond attorney. The platform uses public key cryptography to encrypt and sign messages-
- which keeps their information secret,
- makes them tamperproof, and
- proves who sent them.
All of which, if used properly, should more than address reservations conveyancers who use GhostConvey might have with hackers accessing / intercepting communications relating to property transactions.