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Cyber crime is still soaring – and insecure email remains the weakest link

The scourge of email scams and phishing continues to rise relentlessly. Whilst some organisations have taken steps to protect themselves, many still use email to transfer confidential information to recipients both within and beyond their own domain. A recently-published article highlights this, and the risks to corporate governance that are involved.

Professional practitioners are among the worst offenders. Much of the information that they generate on behalf of their clients is highly confidential and is sent by email as an attachment. Not only does this expose their clients to the loss or theft of the data, it is inefficient and can ultimately lead to serious difficulties for the practitioners themselves. In the UK it is estimated that more than 70% of law firms, for example, still use open email to carry confidential client information.

Sometimes the clients themselves are a problem …

Accounting firms, for example, provide services for a wide range of different clients, everything from global corporates to the local butcher, baker and candlestick-maker. At the smaller end of this scale many clients are resistant to using secure information sharing services as they find it easier to simply receive financial information as an attachment to an email. Sometimes it is securely stored away, but often it is not, leading to repeated requests for the information to be re-sent by the accountant, multiplying the scale of the risk.

VaultConnect, partners of Safe4 Information Management, have expressed the consequences of these “can you just …” requests for information. Typically they result in an interruption of approximately 23 minutes to stop a current task, go and find the requested information, respond to the client, and then try to resume the task that has been interrupted. And the result of this is to expose both the client and the accountant to increased risk.

There are better and safer options

The Safe4 service has been designed explicitly to protect any organisation that needs to share confidential information with external or internal parties, whether it be in unstructured form (such as documents), or structured (data held in columnar format, similar to spreadsheets and simple databases). Manningtons, an accounting firm in Sussex, have recently chosen to significantly expand their use of Safe4 in order to protect themselves and their clients from loss or theft of sensitive information. Read about their experiences here. The result of this approach has enabled Manningtons to enhance their compliance with both the Data Protection Act (which now embodies the recently-enacted European General Data Protection Regulation), and with the guidance issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales. This strongly advises accounting firms not to send confidential information to clients by email, even if the client has actually requested that they do so.

Safe4 utilises a highly secure vault to hold information relating to each client. This can be shared with the clients themselves, allowing two-way transfer of confidential documents and data. The very granular permissions provided by Safe4, as well as comprehensive audit trails and reporting functions, add further levels of protection to the professional practitioners as well as their clients.

Contact Safe4

For more information on how Safe4 can help your organisation to achieve enhanced levels of security and compliance with regulatory frameworks, please get in touch. We will be delighted to assist you.

VaultConnect appointed as Safe4 distributor

 

As part of the market development programme being undertaken by Safe4, VaultConnect of Manchester have signed a distribution agreement enabling them to offer the highly secure Safe4 information delivery and storage service to professional practitioners across the UK.

Although based in the north of England, VaultConnect will operate nationally and have established opportunities to provide the Safe4 service to organisations in all parts of the country, in sectors such as legal, accounting, financial services and more recently art galleries.  All of these organisations manage highly confidential information on behalf of their clients, and all have the responsibility of transferring funds to and from clients and other parties as business is being transacted.

Steve Edge

Richard Higginbotham

VaultConnect was formed by Steve Edge and Richard Higginbotham, both of whom have decades of experience in sales and digital marketing of software-based solutions.  One of the first areas that VaultConnect will be addressing is the activity of property conveyancing solicitors, who are responsible for transferring significant sums of money between clients and the other parties who participate in property transactions, such as estate agents, mortgage lenders, and other law firms.  Steve Edge believes that “Safe4’s platform enables us to solve a real issue for professional service firms who need to share sensitive information with clients and partners. Conventional email is increasingly seen as an unsafe way to transmit information because it’s easy for fraudsters to intercept. Emails can then be impersonated or impregnated for commercial gain.”

Steve also feels that “Safe4 enables us to realise the mantra ‘don’t transmit, VaultConnect’; we help our clients enjoy the convenience and efficiency of email without the risks. Unlike products that are charged on a per user basis, we are able to make a compelling commercial proposition to our target markets.”

GDPR is coming …

Ben Martin, a director of Safe4, is delighted to be working with VaultConnect.  “This relationship brings an exciting opportunity for Safe4, to enhance our ability to engage with new customers and deliver secure high quality solutions in conjunction with the proven expertise of Steve and Richard in the professional practitioner sector, where the benefits from using Safe4 are immediate.  We welcome their commitment to address these vitally important sectors. With GDPR on the horizon it is becoming more important than ever to ensure that all client information is being handled as securely as possible, and using Safe4 satisfies this requirement and brings a competitive edge to professional practitioners of all types”.

For further information please contact us at Safe4, or Steve and Richard at VaultConnect.