Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

ABT's Recommended Physical Device Security


More than ever, people in the mortgage business are relying on mobile devices to stay competitive. They need to stay in touch at all times and provide quick responses to their customers. Smartphones and tablets can be taken anywhere and give users an edge to help them stay competitive.

Unfortunately, devices that are easy to carry around are easy to carry away. Thieves made off with over 2 million smartphones in 2014. It's not just the loss of the device that's the problem, but the data that's on it or that a thief can get at from it. Letting a criminal view the company's business records or send emails impersonating an employee could mean major trouble for your mortgage business.

pMobile phones also face distinctive data security risks. Protecting your mobile device involves four areas: keeping it safe from theft, preventing thieves from using it, dealing quickly with theft if it happens, and observing good physical device security practices.

1. Preventing Theft

Keeping a tablet or smartphone out of the hands of thieves simply requires exercising common sense. Here are some tips:

  • Label your device with contact information. Engraving is best, since it won't come off and makes it harder to sell.
  • Never leave a device in a car, or at least make sure it's well-hidden. Smashing a window and grabbing any loose items is too easy.
  • Never let it out of sight in a public place. Keep it in your pocket or purse when you're not using it, so you don't carelessly walk away from it. Make sure it's still on you when you leave a place where you were using it.
  • If you use it in a crowded place, be alert for pickpockets after putting it away.
  • If a stranger asks to "borrow" your phone for an important call, say no and walk away.
  • When you're charging it, make sure it's in a safe place. Leaving it on your desk at work may seem safe, but if a customer can walk by and snatch it, it's not a great choice.

Note: You need to be equally careful with USB flash drives. They're small and easy to forget.

2. Preventing Unauthorized Use

You can encrypt your device so that no one else can use it without the password. Even the FBI has trouble breaking into encrypted phones, as we've learned from the news. Infoworld offers a guide on encrypting iOS and Android devices. On Android, encryption isn't the same as password protection; make sure to enable both. Also, encrypt any flash drives that might leave the office.

Additionally, you can set the interval at which the device asks for your password; make it five minutes at the most, or require it every time you turn the phone on for maximum security. Use a password that's hard to guess; "1234" is as good as no password at all.

Good security comes in more than one layer. If someone does manage to activate your phone, you want to suffer as little damage as possible. Don't set your applications to log in automatically without a password. That may be convenient, but it can also be dangerous. Setting a single master password is fine; just make sure it's a strong password.

Keep the amount of sensitive information stored on your device to a minimum. Delete old records that you no longer need.

3. Data Security

Mobile devices face some special risks that desktop computers aren't as vulnerable to. Connecting to an unknown wi-fi hotspot can expose the device to spoofed connections and password theft. When you download an application on impulse, you might get something malicious with it.

Before you click, think about whether you really need that application and about how confident you are in its source. If you download a store's app, the store management probably has only the best of intentions, but the developer might have been sloppy and left serious security holes in it.

If It's Lost or Stolen

You can set up your phone or tablet so that you can erase it remotely if it's lost or stolen. The device has to be on the internet for you to do this, but if it isn't online when you issue the command to erase, it will erase itself the next time it goes online.

Android offers several actions you can take, so you can make sure the device is really gone before erasing it. The Android Device Manager lets you make it ring at full volume, even if you had set it to silent mode. If you just left it in your other coat, that option can save you from unnecessarily wiping your device. If it's really lost, you can perform a full reset, wiping out all your phone or tablet’s data and applications.

Apple offers a similar feature for iOS devices. You need to have an Apple ID and an iCloud account. You can check its location or make it play a sound to make sure it's really lost, and you can erase it remotely if you need to.

Report the theft promptly to the police and your employer. ABT's DeviceGuardian™ can, among many other things, help prevent data loss from stolen devices.

Final Thoughts

All this advice shouldn't scare you away from using a mobile device, but rather, it should give you confidence that you can use your mobile devices with little risk of a security breach—if you're careful and you employ the right tools.

Physical protection is one part of a secure data strategy for your mortgage business. ABT's managed cloud services keeps track of the latest information on malware, intrusion, and spyware, so that your devices stay safe. Additionally, DeviceGuardian™ can help keep your data and your devices safe, providing 24/7 security monitoring, cloud backup, and virus and malware protection. It can also remotely wipe stolen devices, when necessary.

Take good care of your devices and let the security experts at Access Business Technologies help! Please contact us for more information.

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Topics: DeviceGuardian mobile device security

Can Your Mortgage Company Meet California's Information Security Requirements?

As a lender, are you protecting the privacy and personal information of the borrowers you serve? Data security is a vital responsibility that you take on when you accept personal information from your clients.

When borrowers fill out that mortgage application or provide financial documents, they are trusting your company to keep that information safe. And you have an ethical obligation—and increasingly, a legal one—to do just that.

California's Push for Information Security

California state officials are pushing for a clear minimum standard that mortgage companies and other businesses of all sizes must adhere to in order to avoid breaches of personal data. They are also working to create a set of guidelines that state officials can use to enforce accountability. California isn't likely to be the only state requiring more attention to data protection. Other states will also be demanding that mortgage lenders and other financial companies meet the standard.

With the February release of the 2016 California Data Breach Report, state Attorney General Kamala Harris has spelled out what expectations California has for its businesses to protect important customer data.

"[M]any of the breaches reported to us could have been prevented by taking reasonable security measures, and an organization that voluntarily chooses to collect and retain personal information takes on a legal obligation to adopt appropriate security controls," Harris wrote in the report's introduction.

The report suggests that all organizations which collect personal information need to meet the 20 critical security controls set out by the Center for Internet Security, and that not doing so shows a lack of responsibility for clients' security and a failure to meet the minimum standard of care.California-pushes-for-greater-Information-Security

The CIS Critical Security Controls

If you aren't sure about your firm's data security, the 20 critical security controls that the California Data Breach Report references are a good starting point. The controls are listed in priority order, and they work in concert to help you create complete security for your data. For example, the 12th control involves protecting laptops and mobile devices. Before you can do that, you must have met the first control, which is to know the devices you have and where they are located.

To help businesses implement these controls, the Center for Internet Security has provided information that explains each action and why it is important. Special attention was given to making sure the controls were implementable for organizations of all sizes, including small businesses.

Putting the controls in place won't stop every hacker or prevent your employees from making mistakes with data handling, but they do represent the best practices that your organization should be following, no matter the size. By taking these steps to actively keep data safe, you prove to your customers, and to your entire staff, that you are taking data security seriously.

Specific Data Security Issues in the Financial Industry

About 18 percent of all the security breaches that occurred in California during 2015 were in the financial sector, which accounted for 13 million individual compromised records. The most common breached data in financial businesses? Social Security numbers. They were compromised in 75 percent of the financial sector's security breaches.

While financial breaches were much less likely to be caused by hackers or malware compared to retail sector breaches, they are more likely to happen because of an internal human error, such as:

  • Sending personal information to the wrong recipients
  • Accidentally posting personal information to a public website
  • Failing to properly dispose of personal information
  • Allowing unauthorized employees to access personal information

This means that mortgage companies need to be especially concerned with having processes in place that protect information from being accidentally released or compromised.

Next Steps to Take

Implementing the 20 controls and staying on top of other data security requirements can be a challenge for mortgage companies. Often, loan officers take work home; are they protecting data in all the locations from which they work? Many mortgage companies are smaller firms; do they have the resources in place to implement these controls?

The answer is using a third-party platform that can exceed security requirements, while making it easy for employees get their work done. A tool like MortgageWorkSpace™ from Access Business Technologies allows companies of all sizes to get work done securely from any location. Here's what the DocumentGuardian® component of ABT's software does:

  • Uses the latest encryption and banking standard protocols, including 256-bit encryption and SSL/TLS transfer protocols, to ensure information is kept safe from security breaches, hackers and identity thieves.
  • Allows emails and files to be transferred using the same high-end encryption.
  • Provides a secure workspace environment so you are not storing financial data on individual computers, laptops, or mobile devices.
  • Maintains files in an ultra-secure, state-of-the-art, enterprise-class data center.

Using the right software platform can also minimize the risk that employees will make critical errors that lead to the public release of private data. It is important that the software is not just secure, but it’s easy to use.  Making sure you provide secure easy to use software increases compliance and therefore increases security.

Contact us for more information on using MortgageWorkSpace™ to secure your mortgage company's data. Doing so can help you comply with state and federal audits and give you the peace of mind that you are keeping your borrowers safe.


Topics: mobile security mobile device security mobile workforce

Securing Your Mobile Workforce in Your Mortgage Company

These days, more and more mortgage companies are beginning to implement a mobile workforce. However, with this newfound mobility comes a number of potential security risks. When mortgage loan officers need to access or enter sensitive information from their mobile devices, they run the risk of exposing that information to security threats.

When a mortgage company focuses more on mobile convenience and less on security, this can become a risky routine. While it's easy to tuck security concerns away due to complacency, data can easily get stolen without the company even knowing. It could happen to your own mortgage company, especially if many of your loan officers work away from the office.

While having a mobile workforce provides some welcome freedom to your loan officers, security for your clients, and the company as a whole, becomes a real concern. As a result, your lenders may not feel confident in their tools or their ability to provide secure and reliable services to clients.

Perhaps by now, you've conducted searches to find a security tool that integrates well with the mortgage software you’re already using. However, your search may have run into snags, since many security tools don’t offer the kind of specific protection the mortgage industry needs.

At Access Business Technologies, we've developed MortgageWorkSpace®, a Cloud-based mortgage desktop that integrates perfectly with all common mortgage software brands and, more importantly, provides a means of security like few other solutions on the market workforce

Let's see how this tool protects your mortgage business and gives your loan officers peace of mind when it comes to mobile security.

A Managed Cloud for Personal Data

The mortgage business is one industry that requires quite a bit of personal information from its clients. Your loan officers already know that it's extremely risky to take so much financial information from clients and store it in a private server without monitoring.

If you have your own on-site server, you may not have the extra money to pay for proper 24/7 monitoring. You may do this only because operating an on-site server is already enough of a monthly expense.

Using a cloud solution is the answer the mortgage industry has been looking for. MortgageWorkSpace® stores all of your client data in our fully monitored cloud server for full-time protection. However, your data doesn't become more difficult to access like it might with other storage solutions. Your applications are accessible in an instant, from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Having a holistic security solution in place not only gives your loan officers peace of mind, but also your clients. Knowing your mortgage company takes mobile security seriously will make your clients feel more comfortable giving out their personal information. It's worth every effort that your lenders show your clients exactly what kind of technology they’re using to keep their private data safe. If not, clients could easily get scared and end up heading to one of your mortgage competitors.

Adhering to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Regulations

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau constantly updates their rules, and our MortgageWorkSpace® helps you stay compliant with every regulation. It's rare to find other mortgage programs that help you stay up to date on CFPB amendments without mistakes or overlooking recent rule changes. MortgageWorkSpace® makes compliance easy to achieve and maintain, no matter the current regulations.

Your loan officers should also take time to explain all CFPB regulations to clients, so they understand what's at stake and what regulations are in place to protect them. The more your clients understand how you are working to keep their information safe, the more they'll develop a sense of trust in your mortgage company. They'll know you don't place mobile convenience ahead of client security, just to make your team of loan officers more comfortable.

Contact us at Access Business Technologies to learn more about MortgageWorkSpace® and how well it integrates with your current software, while protecting client data. Want to see for yourself? Request a demo below. 


Topics: mobile security mobile device security mobile workforce

4 Simple Tips for Mobile Security in the Mortgage Industry

mobile securityMany mortgage companies, especially smaller firms, assume that their business is safe from hackers and other potential cyber attacks, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Cyber attacks present just as big of a risk to small mortgage businesses as they do to large, and in many cases, the associated risk is actually larger.

According to NetIQ, 70 percent of all organizations report that they have been the victim of a cyber attack within the last 12 months. This just goes to show how common small-scale cyber attacks are and how important it is that your mortgage business takes the necessary steps to protect itself from potential breaches.

Many organizations employ some basic steps to keep themselves safe, and those small steps by mortgage firms could dispel the incentive for hackers to target them. When the challenge of hacking your network is greater than the reward, would-be attackers may move on to an easier target.

Here are few simple steps that you can take to protect the mobile security of your mortgage business.

  1. Password Protection

Every loan officer in your organization should receive some basic training in choosing passwords that will help to protect your mortgage business against cyber attacks. Of course, proper password choices are most important for critical systems, but anywhere an employee logs in needs to have proper password security. One simple method that many businesses use to protect their mobile security is requiring that all employees double-authenticate their login through their smart phone and email in order to log in. Additionally, employees should be trained to include capital letters and symbols within their passwords to reduce the chances of them being cracked.

  1. Create Official Company Policies

Recommending that your employees use some best practices for mobile security is simply not enough. You must create official company policies that allow you to spell out exactly what employees need to do to keep your mobile network safe. You should also put in place some ramifications for employees that do not follow the policies.

It can be difficult to explain to your loan officers why mobile security is so important, especially when they are not used to going to extreme measures to protect their home networks. Official policies help to ensure that security is taken seriously.

  1. Use Mobile Device Management Software

Mobile device management software, like DeviceGuardian™, allows you to see all of the devices that are connected to your network at any given time, no matter the platform. They are typically integrated with Android, BlackBerry, Windows, iOS and all other major platforms. This will allow you and your IT department to keep a close eye on who is accessing the network and quickly combat any nefarious activities that might be taking place. Mobile device management software is an absolute must-have for mortgage companies with more than a few devices connecting to the network at any given time.

  1. Share Information

According to Varmour, about one-third of IT security professionals share information and data with IT security industry groups. Most security professionals have never shared any information at all. What most do not realize is that, while sharing information might not directly benefit their company in the present, it can pay off well into the future, as these groups learn more about the attackers and the organizations that they target. Encourage your IT staff to join a security intelligence sharing group and work with others to improve the industry as a whole.

If you would like to learn more about how you can protect your mortgage company against potential threats and keep your mobile networks safe, please contact us today. We'll schedule a consultation with one of our security experts to explain how you can improve the mobile security at your firm.

Topics: ABT cyber security mobile security DeviceGuardian mobile device security