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Protect against trust account hacking

31 August 2017

Cybercrime used to shock and scare, but now it has become so frequent it has become the new norm.

This is according to the Reserve Bank of Australia's cyber security chief Andrew Pade, who said that criminals were shifting their focus to smaller targets. 

Unfortunately, this means many real estate agencies could be at risk, with your trust account increasingly under threat from banking malware. 

Australia has seen several new waves of banking malware, which steals bank information from users of infected machines and then launches fraudulent transactions. 

REINSW recently reported one incident where $757,000 was stolen from an agency trust account. Find out more here.

What threats are out there?

An internet threat called Man-in-the-Browser targets your internet browser and gains access to your data before it is encrypted for transmission. This circumvents common security techniques used by websites, including two factor authentication, and therefore doesn’t attract suspicion.

The attackers can also interfere with the way your browser displays your online banking session in real time by adding extra fields to enter passwords. It can also charge transaction details, despite what’s displayed, and divert your bank funds.

What solutions are available?

Australian businesses are reporting they are losing more money to fraud than ever before, making them focus even more on how they can reduce the risk of it happening.

Macquarie Bank has taken the lead on educating business owners about the threats of cybercrime and fraud, and what they can do to protect not only themselves, but their clients. 

To help business owners stay up-to-date on the practical steps they can take to increase their protection, Macquarie Bank has produced a fraud advice series designed specifically for business owners. These include seven ways to prevent workplace fraud, how to protect the business from email scams, and much more., which provides solutions to stop bank account hacking and ransomware recommends that to increase their resilience, agencies should consider implementing a company banking and payment policy. This involves a mix of technology and social reengineering to prevent issues such as “man-in-the-browser” or “key-loggers” which secretly capture keystrokes.

One of the most basic techniques is to ensure staff carry out all online banking activities from a stand-alone, hardened and completely locked down computer system from which email and web browsing are not possible. is a new category of cyber protection called “remote isolation” which sidesteps the local PC entirely guaranteeing the user is always banking from a pristine new machine. No keystrokes are entered through the normal PC and so banking credentials can’t be intercepted by hacker malware. The bank security Fob or SMS continues to be used as normal. 

The Council of Small Business (COSBOA), has adopted a "three pillars" approach to cyber resilience. This involves education and training, prevention and inoculation, and Disaster Recovery Procedure (DRP).

The COSBOA says increasing awareness of the risks through learning and sharing can help to reduce industry exposure.

Prevention and inoculation requires an understanding of the risks, and the use of technology and human strategies to mitigate these risks.

Disaster Recovery Procedure’s need to be tested regularly. USB backups should be disconnected daily so ransomware can’t destroy them. Ideally automated offsite backup is used ensuring separation and allowing recovery to be tested daily.