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More Asset Register enhancements – Safe4 version 5.02 is released

More updates to the Safe4 Asset Register have been released today. These will add further functionality to the existing system, by making it simpler to manage certain types of information.

The enhancements in version 5.02 include:

  • The ability to sort columns by clicking on the heading, into ascending or descending order
  • Drop-down fields, with permission-controlled ability to define the pick-list
  • A check-box field, so that specified actions such as approval or confirmation can be added with a single click
  • The ability to define a regular expression for a field, combined with an error message of the user’s choosing. This will enable the data entered into specified fields to be controlled, for example to allow only eight numeric characters for bank account numbers
  • Display of a history box alongside each record, showing all of the actions that have been carried out on that record, with user and date/time
  • The ability to designate a field as containing a phone number, so that when used from a smartphone the number can be dialed with a single tap
  • Selection of chosen records with a checkbox to permit emailing other users with questions or comments
  • Selection of chosen records with a checkbox to permit multiple record deletion
  • Option to “Open in Excel” on any page displaying a list of records

These changes will be followed by a series of other developments in the near future, in keeping with the continuous improvement policy of Safe4.

If you would like any more information on these changes, or how they can assist with the secure management of information for your business, please contact us.

Safe4 Use-Case Paper: Secure Property Conveyancing

The Safe4 secure information delivery and storage service has been in use by law firms since 2010, but hitherto primarily in support of corporate and commercial property transactions. The introduction of the Safe4 Asset Register in May 2017 has brought new levels of functionality to the system, some of which can be applied to the process of secure property conveyancing.

How can law firms offer their clients better protection of their confidential information?

It is estimated that at least 70% of law firms in the UK use open email systems to transfer confidential information between external parties. This covers a very large number of information types in a variety of departmental activities. Residential property conveyancing, however, is one area where the use of insecure methods of information transfer has been exposed as a primary target for criminal activity.

When a lawyer is engaged by a client to handle the legal aspects associated with selling their home, the final act in the process is for the lawyer to transfer the sale proceeds from their firm’s client account to the client’s bank account. In most cases this is a simple process that is carried out without difficulty, but in recent years there has been an alarming increase in the level of criminal interception of email. It is common for the lawyer to request the client to provide the details of their bank account by email, by telephone, or by filling in a paper form and sending it back to the lawyer. All of these methods of delivery are potentially insecure, but there is mounting evidence that interception of emails and fraudulent alteration of the target bank details has become a major problem.

Impact on Professional Indemnity Insurance premiums

The existence of the problem has been recognised by the providers of professional indemnity insurance for law firms. Premiums are starting to increase steeply for those firms who use the traditional insecure means of obtaining clients’ bank account details.

Secure Property Conveyancing

The Safe4 Asset Register allows this risk to be eliminated. By opening a secure vault for each property transaction, and creating data fields into which basic bank account information – account number, sort code – can be entered directly by the client, the lawyer can offer the client a higher level of protection than has hitherto been possible.

After the client has entered their bank details, the conveyancer will receive an email automatically generated by Safe4 confirming that the information is available. After logging in, the information can then be transferred safely into the internal systems used for handling client payments. There is of course the standard Safe4 audit trail facility associated with all activity, providing a strong evidential record of everything that has been done during the transaction.

If the Safe4 Application Programming Interface (API) is used, the bank account details can be transferred completely automatically into the law firm’s practice management or accounting systems, thus improving security and efficiency further.

UK Hosting

Because all Safe4 data is hosted in the UK in ISO 27001-accredited data centres, the professional practitioner can also take advantage of Solicitors Regulation Authority compliance. All of the activities of Safe4 are conducted under the law of England and Wales.

Safe4 Information Management have partnered with VaultConnect to offer best-in-class security for the systems that handle the transfer of confidential information between the professional practitioner and the client. This collaboration is now benefiting law firms throughout the United Kingdom, who are able to gain the advantage of the security of the Safe4 platform with the expertise and experience of the VaultConnect team.

Met Police see ransomware as the biggest cyber-security threat in 2018

A series of global ransomware attacks in 2017 have reaped millions of dollars in rewards for criminals who have penetrated unsuspecting users’ IT systems and encrypted their data. In the UK, the National Health Service was one of a number of high-profile victims of such attacks.  According to London’s Metropolitan Police, ransomware looks likely to be a major threat again in 2018. Ransomware cannot prevent access to data stored in Safe4, as indicated in previous articles on this website.

In an article published in The Times newspaper today, the need for managing personal information is highlighted even more strongly. Theft of identity, and with it money, has become such an enormous issue that more and more of us are likely to be at risk through insecure management of our online activities. Using clever apps or devices on mobile phones or computers will obviously help; however using secure online services to deliver and store critical personal information will give the greatest level of protection to businesses and their clients alike.

Safe4 has been rated among the most secure 0.8% of sites on the Internet by independent agencies, out of more than 1.5 million tested. Using the Safe4 Asset Register to handle personal details for a wide range of online activities offers a unique facility for holding both confidential documents and individual elements of data, such as personal identification details. All data held in Safe4 is stored in UK-only data centres accredited to ISO 27001. Please contact us for more information.

More concern over the use of public email

Interference with personal email accounts has become a major source of fraud in the UK. Take a look at this alarming article. However, more than 70% of UK law firms are still communicating with clients via their clients’ personal email accounts, in many cases to carry highly confidential information such as bank account details when executing conveyancing transactions. Repeatedly, criminals are intercepting email messages to fraudulently change bank details, resulting in money being transferred to the wrong account – and innocent lives being ruined.

The Safe4 Asset Register has been designed to eliminate the risk of fraudulent interception of email. It allows clients to enter their banking information directly into one of the most secure sites on the Internet, and automatically notifies the conveyancer that the information has been provided. The lawyer can then login and obtain the information, whilst audit trails are recording all of the details.

Not only does the Safe4 Asset Register eliminate a risk of major financial loss and severe reputational damage, but it enhances compliance with the SRA guidance on the use of cloud computing services. Furthermore, leading brokers in the Professional Indemnity sector believe that using facilities such as that offered by Safe4 will significantly slow down the recent dramatic rises in premiums.

Please contact us. We can help you to improve compliance and reduce risk.

Safe4 Asset Register is launched with release of version 5.0

Since 2010 Safe4 has become established as one of the most secure services on the Internet for the delivery and storage of documents. With the release of Safe4 version 5.0 that capability is dramatically enhanced, as now the inclusion of the Safe4 Asset Register allows the direct input of data into fields that can be set up and managed by the the service provider.

Safe4 Asset Register driven by business requirements

This development was triggered by a number of different requirements, partly arising from the work that Safe4 has been doing in the fields of will-writing and inheritance planning, and more recently in property conveyancing. Whilst Safe4 has always offered the ability for document files to be uploaded securely by both service providers and their clients, this was not always the most efficient way to record some types of information. Details such as National Insurance numbers, personal contact information, or references to memberships are more easily recorded as data, simply entered directly into on-screen fields.

Ever-increasing occurrence of fraud

Furthermore, in recent years the huge increase in fraudulent interception of emails has meant for example that when an end-client needs to provide a conveyancer with the bank details for the transfer of funds to complete a property transaction, both parties have been exposed to significant risk. In most cases today, this information is sent in an open email, or communicated by telephone.

Professional Indemnity insurers have been aware of this for some time, and as a consequence many law firms and other professional practitioners have seen their PI insurance premiums rise steeply, with very large excess payments in respect of every claim.

The Safe4 Asset Register enables a service provider to define classes of asset themselves, and to associate them with attributes which become the fields into which the end client can input their details directly, without using email or voice. This all happens under the protection of the industry-leading security offered by Safe4. Email is only used to notify the service provider that the data has been entered, whereupon they must login to the system to obtain the necessary information. All actions are captured in the Safe4 audit trail, which provides a strong evidential record should any dispute arise.

Reduce risk, improve compliance

As well as helping to mitigate risk and thus slow down the ever-increasing cost of PI insurance, it is believed that use of the Safe4 Asset Register will also enhance compliance with the Solicitors Regulation Authority guidelines for the use of cloud computing services. Avoidance of email for the transfer of confidential information, UK hosting in ISO 27001-accredited data centres, powerful encryption, independent annual penetration testing and other measures offer genuine protection for service providers and their clients.

A wide range of other business applications can be supported by the Safe4 Asset Register. Safe4 will be publishing a series of articles and announcements in the coming months highlighting the benefits that can accrue to different types of organisation, including those in the financial services, health, business continuity planning, charities, property, government, training and skills development sectors.

Please get in touch with us for more information on how the Safe4 Asset Register can add value to your business.