Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

What Mortgage Companies Should Know About Ransomware


The scourge of ransomware is a growing threat to both individuals and companies around the world. This malicious type of software (or "malware") is perhaps one of the most damaging and pernicious around, and it poses a particular threat to mortgage companies and credit unions.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that, once unknowingly installed on a computer or device, restricts the user’s access to the infected system until they pay a ransom to the hackers to remove it. Because the data being held ransom is often of great importance and there is very little law enforcement or even trained IT personnel can do once the ransomware has been installed, many simply victims choose to pay it.

How are Ransomware Attacks Made?

Ransomware often infiltrates a system, not through an obvious corporate blunder, but through regular human mistake. Usually, the ransomware arrives in an email with a fake link, called a "Trojan" because it masks its true intentions to attack your system. The Trojan link may look like an innocent connection to an interesting news article or important data. The email may even appear to be from law enforcement or a government agency, tricking users by claiming they’re being audited or they’ve engaged in a crime, such as pornography or media piracy.

In reality, these trojan links contain the instructions to download and install ransomware onto the computer. Once the user clicks the link, it connects with the hidden server and the malware is automatically downloaded onto the computer. After the software is downloaded, the computer is completely frozen, except for a few basic operations like the mouse and the keyboard. The software works typically by setting the Windows Shell to itself or even modifying the master boot record.

Once infected, all of the files are hidden and the main programs won't run. The computer is essentially useless. The next step is where the term ransom truly comes from, because a screen pops up threatening to destroy or expose all of the files unless a payment (usually in bitcoin, a wire transfer, or Western Union payment) is made within a certain period of time.

How to Protect Your Mortgage Business Against Ransomware?

Because ransomware has proven frighteningly effective, hackers around the world, especially from Russia, are perpetrating this crime more now than ever before. This means it is becoming increasingly imperative that mortgage companies protect themselves from these threats.  

Access Business Technologies (ABT) is a leading provider of security software, specifically tailored toward the mortgage industry. Our focus on this industry gives us special insight into the needs and issues that financial firms have. We are especially aware of the ransomware risks mortgage companies face and have created active defenses against them.

For that reason, ABT has created DeviceGuardian. This innovative tool is easily installed on any existing or new devices, in order to protect your entire organization from increasingly pervasive security threats. DeviceGuardian allows ABT to securely manage all of your mortgage software, data, and users, without driving up operating expenses. At the same time, it improves efficiency by reducing the need for administrators to keep such a watchful eye over every device in your network.

The system proactively monitors all of the emails, documents, and messages entering your system for malicious links or software. If one is spotted, it automatically alerts the user. Software that are known ransomware are also blocked from downloading onto the network. In addition, DeviceGuardian™ ensures that all devices in your network are compliant with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations, so you are covered in the occurrence of an audit.

For more information, please contact us. Our expert consultants will discuss your specific needs and recommend the best and most comprehensive security solutions for your mortgage firm. Don’t let you or your mortgage brokers fall victim to a ransomware attack. Protect yourself today.

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Topics: dangers of ransomware ransomware

The Dangers of Ransomware to Your Mortgage Company: Protecting Your Private Data from Hackers

In the last 18 months, the world has seen a sharp rise in attacks on businesses, individuals and even government organizations by hackers using sophisticated malware. One of the most dangerous of all being Ransomware. If you've never heard of Ransomware, it basically hijacks your computer system and allows hackers to lock you out of your personal data until you pay a ransom. This may sound like something out of a movie, but unfortunately, it's not. Ransomware is very real, and it’s costing companies millions of dollars.

Mortgage companies are especially vulnerable to these security threats, due to the sensitive nature of the information they use and store. The dangers of Ransomware have been pinned by the media as one of the most dangerous types of malware in cyberspace. One of the most notorious Ransomware viruses out there, called CryptoWall, has reports of over 992 complaints over the last year alone. The total cost of the damage done goes well over $18 million so far, and the threats are still out there.

With all of their valuable information being held ransom, many companies and individuals actually give in and pay the ransom, with the hope they'll get their computer systems back to normal. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Even after paying the ransom, most computer systems stay hijacked until a very expensive and lengthy fix is performed by IT technicians. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done because no backups were made of your files, and the encryption algorithm used to hold your data hostage is not breakable.

This kind of security breach can be devastating to your mortgage company by slowing or stopping a loan closing, threatening not only your reputation as a business, but also the ability of your customer to buy their home. No doubt you have measures in place that safeguard the data you store and send, but how safe is your data really?

One of the most common places Ransomware originates from is often one of the most overlooked and unsecured: email.

Obviously, emails are an essential part of communication between you, your employees and your mortgage clients, but it can also leave you susceptible to security threats, many of which you may not even be aware.

Here is an in-depth look at how Ransomware can threaten your mortgage company and what you can do to protect yourself from those dangers.

How Ransomware Spreads

Just like any other virus, Ransomware gets hidden in links that look like legitimate email subjects. You've likely already trained your loan officers to watch out for emails that look suspicious. The problem is, many people still get fooled because the emails they receive appear to be legitimate. The hackers who spread Ransomware create very convincing emails with the intention of persuading people to click on the links.

Often, these hackers create emails about financial emergencies, in order to cause your employees to panic and perhaps, think less clearly than they typically would. That’s why it's essential to train your loan officers to be extremely cautious with every email they receive.

Once Ransomware gets into your computer systems, it begins to encrypt the files on your computer and any files you can access on servers connected to your computer, where an encryption method locks you out of your own files. Essentially, these viruses locks up your system to the point where your entire mortgage business shuts down.

At the same time, all the private information you have stored on your systems is available to the Ransomware hackers. On the chance you can still get your system unlocked by paying the ransom, the virus creators could have already used or stored the private data of your clients for their own gain.

The good news is, with the proper security software, none of this should ever happen. That’s why at Access Business Technologies, we've created EmailGuardian to fully protect your mortgage company’s email security.

What EmailGuardian Can Do for You

Our EmailGuardian software gives you better control of your email, and protects both incoming and outgoing data.

Our unique, patented software offers complete protection from spam, viruses, malware, phishing, data leaks and email transmission encryption policies. It also protects against inbound and outbound email-borne threats.

Even in the event of a system outage, EmailGuardian offers seamless protection. Its Email Continuity feature delivers always-on email availability in near real-time, even during an email outage. It also integrates easily with Microsoft Outlook, so that your employees can continue to use their preferred email programs safely and securely.

EmailGuardian also provides unlimited email archiving, so you can securely store and save your emails in the cloud for as long as you want, without having to worry about losing or running out of space on servers.

EmailGuardian’s security features are some of the best in the industry. Not only is your business protected from all threats, but you won't have to risk one of your loan officers inadvertently clicking on a malicious link.

Contact us at Access Business Technologies to find out more about EmailGuardian and how it can protect your mortgage firm from the looming threat of Ransomware.

Topics: ABT Access Business Technologies cyber security dangers of ransomware