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‘All links in the mortgage chain should be tuned into cyber security’ – Fullbrook

by: Tony Fullbrook, head of mortgage purchases at Barclays Mortgages
  • 12/06/2017
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‘All links in the mortgage chain should be tuned into cyber security’ – Fullbrook
It’s a sad fact of life that cyber crime is an ever-growing threat for businesses and individuals.

Whether it is a business being held to ransom after the theft of sensitive information or a phishing email leading to personal finances being compromised, such incidents have now become relatively commonplace.

Within this wide cybercrime parameter, conveyancing fraud is an issue which has, quite rightly, generated many headlines and is one which we need to bring to the fore and address.

After all, this is reportedly the most common cybercrime in the legal sector and, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, was the result of around £7m of client losses during 2016.


Industry responsibility

This is a worrying figure and only serves to emphasise the responsibility attached to lenders, solicitors and even intermediaries in being as proactive as possible to help potential homeowners avoid such scams.

To further highlight this issue, research from Barclays suggested that 5% of the UK population have fallen victim to a conveyancing scam, a similar level to most other scam types.

Breaking this down regionally, the data showed that London was the UK’s worst city for conveyancing fraud – where 13% of homebuyers are faced with attempted scams.

Other bad areas for conveyancing scammers were said to be Liverpool (10%), Birmingham (9%) and Bristol (8%), with the safest being Leeds (2%) and Manchester (3%).

The research also outlined that these scams are education blind, meaning those with higher levels of education or in senior roles are just as likely to been duped.


Raise awareness

To help combat this issue we’ve launched a £10m advertising campaign to drive public awareness of financial fraud. However, this education process has to extend beyond individuals to make any real impact.

There are certain sectors or industries which are more vulnerable to particular types of cyber crime. The sector also determines which type of information is the most valuable and, therefore, damaging if compromised by a cyber attack.

The financial services sector is an enticing target for cyber criminals because firms tend to hold large amounts of sensitive data. Despite some high profile cases and huge potential cost implications of a cyber attack, there are still many firms which are not taking this issue seriously enough.

In some quarters, such threats may be perceived as pertinent to only larger financial institutions but they are also relevant to smaller firms, including those operating within the intermediary community.


Realise threats

This isn’t meant as scaremongering.

Solutions and advice are out there to help combat these issues, although it is vital to realise and identify any possible threats.

For smaller companies which cannot afford a full-time cyber security officer, or even suitably qualified IT Management, cyber security responsibility needs to be assumed by someone – whether internal or outsourced.

Simple things like the inclusion of anti-malware protection will not only help safeguard your business but also provide an additional layer of protection for your clients.

Cyber crime is a constantly evolving threat, and one not limited to conveyancing fraud.

All links in the mortgage chain should be tuned into cyber security and fraud related issues. That way we can all do our utmost to lock the doors to potential security breaches no matter how large or small.

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