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Record of 100% availability of Safe4 continues – but not for all service providers

Safe4 recorded another month of 100% availability in December 2018, to continue a remarkable record of availability in excess of 99.99% that stretches back to October 2017. In addition to providing the highest standards of security in managing customers’ documents and data, Safe4 also ensures that information is always available when needed.

Not all service providers are able to claim such a record, as published today. As well as utilising UK-only data centres accredited to ISO 27001 and being fully compliant with the Solicitors Regulation Authority guidance for cloud computing, Safe4 has been able to ensure that customers’ business activities are not curtailed or interrupted by the system being unavailable.

For more information on how Safe4 can help your organisation to improve security, reduce costs and enhance client service, please contact us. We will be very pleased to assist you.

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.

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 and IT Farm to work together, with a focus on the UK professional services sector

Safe4 are delighted to announce that they are to work closely with IT Farm, a Manchester-based specialist cloud services provider. With a long history of offering cloud services in the UK, IT Farm have been providing high quality outsourced IT support services, including hosted desktop and telephony solutions, to the professional services sector in the UK.

This complements the experience that Safe4 have gained in the financial and professional services environment. With customers in the banking, legal, accounting and insurance sectors, Safe4 are ideally placed to work closely with IT Farm to deliver a range of complementary solutions. IT Farm’s customer base includes a number of organisations that will be able to take advantage of the highly secure document delivery and storage facilities offered by Safe4.

Ben Martin, director of Safe4 Information Management, believes that working closely with IT Farm is a natural step. “The emphasis we have placed on security since the company was formed in 2010 allows professional practitioners and others to share documents in complete confidence with clients, partners, associates, suppliers, employees, and other professional firms. This forms an essential element within a range of IT solutions that modern practices are now demanding, and creates an opportunity for integration with practice management, finance and accounting, and other business applications. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with IT Farm, who are able to bring together a number of complementary solution providers. Our SRA-compliant service will thus enable law firms in particular to take advantage of a range of opportunities for secure and effective integrated information management.”

Please contact us for more information on the benefits of adopting the Safe4 service.

Personal email systems still being used to carry confidential information

It is no major surprise to learn that a major email service provider has been hacked – again – and that millions of people have had their personal information exposed to criminals. This is highlighted in an interesting article in The Times, published today.

What is still very unfortunate, however, is that a large number of professional practitioners in the UK are still failing to acknowledge that email is the leading source of computer crime and online fraud. Time and again personal financial information is being passed between lawyers and their clients, in residential property transactions for example, using the client’s personal email account. Repeated examples of these emails being hacked and bank account details being changed have not deterred some high-profile UK law firms from continuing this practice, irrespective of severe financial losses being experienced by their clients.

Also worrying is that it is common practice in some firms for lawyers and others to send confidential documents to their own private email accounts so that they can be worked on outside business hours or away from the office.

The Safe4 service was launched in 2010 to offer a highly secure alternative to email, not just for document transfer, but also for medium-term or permanent management of information. Based on UK-only storage in data centres that are accredited to the ISO 27001 international security standard, Safe4 offer a service that complies with the Solicitors Regulation Authority guidance on the use of cloud computing. Accessible at any time, from anywhere, it eliminates the need to trust confidential information to high-risk systems.

For more information on how Safe4 can assist your firm to minimise the risk of information loss or interception, please contact us.