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New technology offers industry solutions to cyber security headache

By Kyle Robbins
25 November 2022 | 12 minute read
lara paholski the law store reb bwh7tm

An Australian tech company has developed a solution that assists real estate practitioners better protect customer data and mitigate cyber threats.

With cyber crimes occurring every seven minutes in Australia — including on recent high-profile victims Optus, Medibank, and Harcourts — and given real estate boasts one of the largest data sets in Australia, thelawstore.com.au’s Livesign product — aims to ensure data protection.

The recently updated system enhances protection against identity threats whilst ensuring compliance with cyber laws, which is critical for agents given the volume of data obtained and stored during the purchasing process.

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Lara Paholski, chief executive officer at thelawstore.com.au, said: “Every year in Australia, there are hundreds of thousands of property transactions made. CoreLogic estimates that last year, there were almost 598,000 house and unit sales across Australia. For every sale, two or more documents per vendor are sighted and stored, which means that in 2021, more than 2 million documents were collected by agents.” 

She believes that “by adhering to the fair-trading guidelines, real estate agents are creating an identity honeypot that, if cracked, could have a catastrophic impact on the industry and its customers”.

Livesign isn’t “merely focus[ed] on strengthen[ing] cyber security to make the honeypot harder to breach, but to remove it entirely”. 

According to a statement, Livesign removes “the need for face-to-face meetings, while allowing the Authority to Act to be digitally signed”. At the same time, it:

  • Processes 100 points of ID via the vendor’s smartphone
  • Checks ID against relevant government databases
  • Provides agent with an identity certification with the details of the transaction recorded
  • Securely stores the signed Authority and ID details
  • Redacts personal information when the process is complete

Ms Paholski explained: “Our technology has been developed to remove the need for the real estate industry to store high-value personal information, while ensuring agents know with confidence who they are representing. 

“In addition to improving the agent’s compliance journey, vendors also get a better experience in that they can sign the Authority at a time convenient to them, without handing over photocopies of their ID.”

She questioned what chance real estate agencies have, especially considering how larger organisations such as Optus and Medibank can find themselves victims of cyber crime. 

Ms Paholski concluded: “It doesn’t matter how secure any organisation thinks they are; there is always the risk of compromise.”

Cyber security has been at the forefront of the real estate industry since the Harcourts attack. Earlier this month, University of NSW City Futures Research Centre senior research fellow Dr Chris Martin called on governments to review tenancy laws to increase data protection, while agents have also been warned to be vigilant regarding their social media accounts.

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