Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

Why Cyber Security Comes First in the Mortgage Software Market

Why Cyber Security Comes First in the Mortgage Software Market

Equally important: physical security and cyber security.

The finance industry’s data-handling platforms have a clear bulls-eye on them.

The U.S. mortgage industry supply chain is considered a “massive target for information security breaches.” In fact, from 2015 to 2016 the number of data breaches in the United States went up by 40%.

Still, most mortgage lenders sidestep cyber security by shopping for software the old-fashioned way.

Functionality across platforms is comparable, but security is where the largest variation exists amongst current technology offerings. The regulatory and litigation atmosphere surrounding data breaches in 2018 is such that the best mortgage software addresses cyber security first and foremost.

Here is how the best mortgage software on the market is focused on security frameworks first.

The Weakest Link

Poor cyber security has a financial and regulatory impact. This, combined with the negative press of recent international breaches, is what the modern financial institution wants to avoid.

Though large institutions have tight security, an increase in automation and “digital mortgage” online customer interactions means that high-tech services are being farmed out to third-party vendors. Tools like business intelligence (BI) and machine learning (ML) also means data transfer within the industry is nearly constant.

Homebuyer information is especially ripe for hackers because it includes secondary digital assets like credit data.

Though big banks are heavily invested in keeping this data safe, the sharing of borrower data to smaller vendors has caused a disruption in the security systems. The immature security of these third-party service providers has created a weak link in a previously well-fortified industry.

Who is Responsible?

Though it seems like the third-party vendor is the one who should catch up to security norms, the tech newcomers are not being held responsible.

New legislation in the US holds financial institutions responsible for the security level of their third-party vendors—no matter where the data or breach originated from. When a smaller vendor experiences a security event, it is the large mortgage company that is on the hook.

Even if the company avoids catching the eye of regulators, cases of mishandled customer data have executed litigation of $201+ per recorded liability.

Cyber Security Solutions

The solution is to rein in weak spots by employing cyber security technology that goes beyond the traditional server model. It should cover gateways, third-party access, and employ strategies that keep an eye on common but unsafe tech-related practices.

A tech developer called ABT offers a cloud-based platform called MortgageWorkSpace that ticks the right boxes.

ABT works exclusively with the mortgage industry to develop software solutions for lenders and third-party financial institutions in the home buying industry. With the functionality of the lending platforms in place, ABT leads mortgage tech by focusing squarely on cutting-edge cyber security.

Above all, MortgageWorkSpace provides a secure gateway to access lending data. It employs multi-factor authentication and monitors system email use to fend off phishing as well.

Despite increased accountability, mortgage lenders can keep the company name and customers safe by shopping for a platform that puts security first.

Advanced Cyber Security Features

With market demand high, on-board security features distinguish better platforms from those that add build-out security capabilities as an afterthought.

ABT has a built-in consumer protection feature called Remote Desktop which gives mortgage lending employees a cloud-based real-time file management system. Offering functionality to the user, this feature actually prevents the storage of data on local PCs. This Dropbox-like feature means that the employee’s desktop is not only updateable from anywhere, but that files containing sensitive information don’t get downloaded out of the system where security is weakest.

Lenders shopping for top mortgage software should keep an eye out for features like the Remote Desktop that combine user experience with security in a way that is seamless.

Developers who have security at the forefront of their business model will also provide crucial non-tech extras for lenders.

ABT gives clients a written information security policy that outlines the software’s parameters and security compliance rules. This type of documentation may have been overkill in the past, but is increasingly required by state and federal law for legal operations in the U.S.

Though most software shoppers understandably look at usability first, the consumer financial sector increasingly puts cyber security front and center.

Mortgage broker software is no exception. Platforms should have a full range of built-in cyber security solutions, usability features that incorporate digital protection without being clunky, and advanced features that provide extended protection as regulations become more stringent.

As a target for hackers and a trend of increasing legal accountability, cyber security is now the main consideration in the mortgage software market.

Check out the full range of ABT’s security-driven mortgage business products on our website or contact us to learn more.

Image: Unsplash

Topics: Hosted Software options Mortgage Servicing in the Cloud mobile security mobile device security email security data security mortgage company security financial data security social networking safety phishing multi-factor authentication Business Intelligence cybersecurity mortgage documents security data warehousing

Know Your Cyber Security Reporting Obligations

Know Your Cyber Security Reporting Obligations

New laws dictate how finance companies report security issues.

New York’s recent crackdown in state cybersecurity laws marks true reformation in the finance industry.

14 pages of detailed regulations fully outline the new accountability measures at Wall Street’s epicenter.

The regulations compel close to 10,000 financial institutions and 300,000 insurance licensees to put consumer protection before their corporate reputation for the first time in US history.

From a minor system access attempt by hackers all the way up to a full data breach, the new law saddles financial institutes with direct accountability to the state and implements a new standard in reporting for all mortgage loan servicers, banks, credit unions, and insurance companies.

For finance companies wondering how to conduct business in this new reality, here is a guide to the reporting obligations of New York’s new cybersecurity law

Governing Bodies

The first step of understanding the new obligations is to get familiar with the regulatory bodies of New York’s finance world.

The main authority on the new regulation is the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS).

In the past, financial institutions were regulated via voluntary frameworks and reported externally to DFS in few situations with undefined parameters.

Under the new law, DFS established immediate authority by requiring a DFS-issued cyber security Certificate of Compliance as a basic prerequisite for operating a financial company. This gives DFS the ability to discipline non-compliant companies by revoking their certificate.

Beyond DFS, the regulation stipulates the creation of internal positions for officers to interface with DFS on behalf of the company. This requirement pushes aside ineffective industry-based governing bodies in favor of a direct link.

Mortgage companies must designate a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for in-house enforcement of company security procedures. The CISO reports in writing annually to the company’s board and will be held personally, legally responsible in the event of a breach at the agency.

Reporting Obligations

The final piece of accountability addressed in the new law is a reexamination of security reporting.

A “cybersecurity event” is any attempt of unauthorized access private consumer information. In order to mitigate the effects of a security event, financial institutions need to disclose data loss when it happens. This gives consumers sufficient time to take protective action such as changing passwords or putting a hold on a compromised credit card.

In practice though, finance companies endeavor keep data hacks under wraps. They prefer to save face and avoid losing consumer confidence.

In September of 2017, the Equifax data breach made international headlines. Though not the largest, it is considered the worst data breach in US history due to the sensitive nature of personal data that was accessed.

Despite being aware of the situation, Equifax spent five weeks running corporate damage control before disclosing the leak. The company initially underreported the number of affected consumers as 2.5 million instead of the actual 145.5 million people whose private data was stolen.

This failure to disclose the full extent of the damage infuriated the public.

Lawmakers vowed to protect consumers against this type of cover-up. With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) at the helm, this is how the new regulations were written into law.

No More Cover-Ups

Now, the superintendent’s office places a strict time cap on security breach announcements. A company has no more than 72 hours to report any event that has a “reasonable likelihood of materially harming the normal operations” of the company. 

Since Equifax’s disregard for public safety, the law now stipulates that a data breach report is no longer the jurisdiction of the local supervisory body. Instead, reports of data loss go up the chain of command straight to the New York Superintendent’s office.

With a quicker turnaround time, consumers can be alerted quickly and efficiently through official channels about the breach.

Though basic requirements of the law have already gone into effect, the state of New York did allow time for mortgage companies to learn the law and implement it piece by piece.

According to the roll-out dates of the law, companies are required to be legally compliant with specific sections of the law on March 1 and September 3, 2018. The end of the full two-year transitional period and full compliance will be enforced by March 1, 2019.

For comprehensive compliance guidance and other cybersecurity solutions and, contact us.

Image: Visual Hunt

Topics: cyber security mobile security mobile device security email security cybersecurity security mortgage industry Trump Administration Housing Market Mortgage Lending 23 NYCRR Part 500 NYSDFS

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.


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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 today.mobile 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. 

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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

Mobile Security for Your Mortgage Firm: Preventing Threats While Out in the Field

mobile securityIn today’s increasingly mobile world, more and more businesses are allowing their employees to use their mobile devices for work, especially when those employees are on the road or working from home. As a result, mobile security is more important than ever for protecting businesses from the threat of an information breach. In fact, despite mounting evidence of growing security threats, many companies still disregard mobile security as a priority. And in the mortgage industry, where your company handles such quantities of private information, ignoring security on mobile devices is a gamble you cannot afford to make.

The truth is that mobile devices can become vulnerable targets to online thieves in many situations. As Bankrate noted last year, mortgage lenders, especially, are a major target of hackers because of the comprehensive private information available to steal.

As your loan officers do more and more from their mobile devices, what other security issues could happen that may compromise company data?

Let's take a look at a couple of the potential threats and how our trademarked tools here at Access Business Technologies can solve your biggest concerns.

Unreliable Public Wi-Fi Networks

When your loan officers are on the road, chances are they will find themselves, at one point or another, sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant taking advantage of the free wi-fi connection as they meet with a client or tackle some work with their breakfast. However, as Forbes noted last year, public wi-fI networks are incredibly vulnerable to hackers.

Hackers, with only the click of a button, can monitor and hijack logins, passwords, and email or chat communications, among other things. And, when those communications include the highly-sensitive financial data that is an everyday part of your loan officer’s work, a breach of this information could prove catastrophic for your mortgage firm.

Lost or Stolen Devices

Mobile devices themselves (including laptops) are vulnerable to security threats, but many mortgage firms forget the threat of simple human error. When a device is lost or stolen from one of your loan officers, the data on that device is at the mercy of whoever finds it. Any files, passwords, or client information stored on that device are now susceptible to theft. Even with your data backed up and stored on a cloud server somewhere, if that information is also stored on the device, the threat of a breach is huge.

How DeviceGuardian™ can Help

Here at Access Business Technologies, our mobile management tools provide the best security measures in the market so your mobile devices don't become sitting targets. Configured specifically for the unique challenges and regulations of the mortgage industry, with tools like DeviceGuardian™, your mortgage firm can protect every mobile device being used by your employees.

DeviceGuardian™ provides hard drive encryption and complete protection from hackers, identity theft, malware and viruses, so no matter where your loan officers are or what device they’re using, they can be sure their clients’ information is safe. The software is regularly and automatically updated to ensure that your devices are protected from the latest threats. And, if a device does end up lost or stolen, DeviceGuardian™ allows you to remotely wipe the device so any valuable information is completely erased before it ends up in the wrong hands.

This easy-to-use software operates across all popular platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices, and is easily integrated with your other mortgage software, including our cloud-based desktop computing service, MortgageWorkSpace™.

In an age where information security is more important than ever, it is crucial that mortgage firms protect themselves and their customers. Contact us here at Access Business Technologies to learn more about DeviceGuardian™, as well as our other tools, and how they can help protect, control, and manage your mortgage business.

Topics: ABT cyber security mobile security DeviceGuardian MortgageWorkSpace