Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

Mortgage Lenders Look to MicroSecure Online Password Guidelines

mortgage lenders look to microsecure online password guidlinesBarbed wire, a chain-link fence, and a camera combine to provide a high level of security.

Microsoft reports over 10 million username/password pair attacks against their users each day. As one of the largest Identity Providers (IdPs) in the world, the company is in a unique position to recommend how to best handle cyber security.

The Microsoft user community’s updated guidance for secure password creation has been available since May 2016. Companies in the financial sector can follow Microsoft’s guidelines for password creation to ensure superior user security with their online mortgage software.

Here is the most up-to-date advice for creating secure passwords. Mortgage lenders can follow these guidelines to keep online account hackers at bay.

IT Administrators Are Responsible for Setting Password Parameters

Though users ultimately invent the password for their account, IT administrators play a role in regulating the end level of security. The parameters that a mortgage lender’s IT team sets for users will dictate how secure the resulting user passwords are.

Microsoft suggests:

  • Maintaining an 8-character minimum length requirement
  • Banning universally common passwords
  • Educating users not to mix the usage of passwords for work and non-work accounts
  • Enforcing registration for multi-factor authentication
  • Enabling risk based multi-factor authentication challenges

In the face of data collected at Microsoft’s cloud-based directory and identity management service Azure Active Directory (MS AD) login, other long-held practices in password parameter setting have been abandoned. Microsoft no longer recommends character-composition requirements and mandatory periodic password resets for user accounts.

In fact, these outdated policies were found to increase the facility of hacking username/password pairs. For example, users prompted to create new passwords frequently often default to choosing weaker passwords or making slight variations on old passwords to guard against forgetfulness.

User Tips for Creating a Unique Microsoft Password

With IT parameters in place, the ultimate creation of the password is up to the user of the online account. For mortgage companies using MS AD for their cloud-based platforms, these tips can be disseminated to loan officers to encourage cyber security within the company. In the case that a hacker gains access to a loan officer’s email, these tips can prevent the attacker from taking over other accounts.

Microsoft suggests that users:

  • Avoid re-using passwords or variations on a theme for various online accounts
  • Avoid single words (e.g. “password”) and commonly-used phrases (e.g. “mynameis”)
  • Avoid personal information that can be guessed such as pet names, favorite hobbies, or numbers from your birth date

By following these guidelines for a secure password, lenders can keep online accounts safe from cyber security events. This, in turn, protects the sensitive personal data of lending customers kept in online mortgage software platforms.

Further Recommendations for Microsoft Account Security

Beyond guidance for IT administrators and users, Microsoft offers common sense recommendations to all their partners and clients.

The tech giant’s general recommendations are to keep security information up to date, turn on two-step or multi-factor authentication (MFA), be careful of suspicious emails, avoid clicking on unfamiliar links, update all work-related computer programs and operating systems, and make sure to install and use regular antivirus applications on staff computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

With its place at the leading edge of MS AD surveillance, Microsoft has a particularly good vantage point to recommend useful and lasting guidelines for evading hackers. The recommendations offered are applicable for avoiding cyber attacks on Microsoft and other accounts with online access.

Financial institutions can protect their staff and customers by creating secure passwords and by implementing security measures like ABT’s Email Guardian designed specifically for mortgage lenders.

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Topics: creating strong passwords cybersecurity mortgage industry Mortgage Lending password

How to Safely Handle Personal Data on Mortgage Applications

How to Safely Handle Personal Data graphicA laptop, a book, and a smartphone on lockdown.

Mortgage applications require a huge amount of personal data.

Zillow’s educational post about mortgage application documents suggests more than 14 pieces of identifying data including an applicant’s social security status, employment history, income, and asset account balances. With a wealth of sensitive data, the potential for lenders as a target for identity thieves is extremely high.

In the post-Equifax regulation increase, it’s more important than ever for lenders to be careful with customer data. It’s the responsibility of financial institutions to keep their customers’ data safe.

Here are some ways that mortgage lenders can do their jobs while safely handling the personal data from mortgage applications.

Take Precautions with Customer Data

Lenders can do their part by informing customers about cyber security precautions they may be unfamiliar with.

First, encourage customers to send personal information via a secure online portal instead of email, which is susceptible to attack. To support transparency, lenders can publish privacy and security policies online where customers can access them easily. Finally, lenders should communicate to customers about what steps they are taking to protect their information.

This kind of open communication establishes trust and reassures customers that your company works hard to eliminate security threats.

Guard Against Phishing Scams

Beyond informing consumers, lenders can employ cyber security tools to guard against email-based attacks.

Hackers often send emails containing dangerous links disguised as normal work messages. The fake email messages can be quite sophisticated; using names and email addresses similar to people the recipient actually interacts with. This is called “phishing” and it is a type of email scam designed to make a person unwittingly provide information to outsiders.

Lenders should employ email safeguards such as EmailGuardian to protect loan officers from these phishing scams. This comprehensive cyber security product from mortgage software developers Access Business Technologies (ABT) uses multi-layered detection to identify suspicious messages and review incoming URLs for threats, spam, and malware.

Encryption Keeps Data Safe

Once email is established as a safe way for lenders to communicate, mortgage companies should amp up their data transfer security.

ABT offers another product called DocumentGuardian to give borrowers an easy way to send encrypted loan documents without having to register for an account. Customers should use this secure document drop portal to send all Non-Public Information (NPI) safely to loan officers.

The encryption feature keeps data from falling into the wrong hands by ensuring that only the correct recipient can decrypt the documents and access the data. By not requiring registration, lenders also avoid storing even more information that can be used to identify customers in the lending system.

Auto-Encryption Feature for Personal Data

With secure email and borrowers having a safe option for submitting personal data online, the final loophole that customers worry about is human error.

Though loan officers are knowledgeable about safety precautions and generally tech-savvy, everybody is human. People make mistakes. In the name of convenience and customer service, over 70% of mortgage lenders may be putting customers at risk by accepting loan application documents via unsecured email. The study cited speed and customer service as reasons for loan officers to bypass more secure channels. If they will take incoming data through secure channels, chances are outgoing messages aren’t completely on the level.

ABT’s EmailGuardian not only guards against phishing as mentioned, it also has an auto-encrypt feature that guards against accidental data breach by staff. If a loan officer inadvertently sends an email with NPI contained in the body of the message, the email will automatically be encrypted on its way out of the system.

This capability protects both the loan officer and the lending company from tripping up and creating unintentional liabilities.

The mortgage application process is fraught with security risks due to the amount and quality of personal data being collected for modern-day mortgage applications over the internet. Though ripe for potential breaches, mortgage lenders and borrowers can ensure the security of their conversations and data sharing by taking precautions and using cyber security tools developed especially for the mortgage industry.

With encrypted data, secure portals, and safety nets in place to handle human error, borrowers can have peace of mind that their data is safe with your company.

Visit Access Business Technologies to learn more about how mortgage lenders can successfully safeguarding their company and their customers’ data.

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Topics: cybersecurity security mortgage business mortgage industry

4 Ways Loan Management Software Improves the Mortgage Experience

4 Ways Loan Management Software Improves the MortFinancial management software makes everyday interactions smoother for mortgage lenders.

Mortgage software has relied on legacy infrastructures and paper processes for far too long.

In almost every other sector, interactions between banking institutions and customers have moved online.

Web-based transactions for commerce are increasing annually. In 2017, global e-retail sales amounted to 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars and projections show a growth of up to 4.48 trillion U.S. dollars by 2021.  As retail transactions migrate away from brick-and-mortar, the rest of the banking world plays catch up.

In the mortgage world, loan management software offers lenders high-tech solutions to keep them on the cutting edge of the finance world.

Here are the 4 ways that loan management software improves the mortgage experience.

  1. Centralized Access to Document Management

Cloud-based domain services store data on the cloud instead of on a localized server. This gives mortgage companies access to business-critical data from virtually anywhere. Office PCs, employee-owned laptops, and even mobile devices can capitalize on business opportunities anywhere that lenders are interacting with clients.

Loan management software like MortgageWorkSpace (MWS) offers a “portal” or single point of entry to all employees with internet access.

Users can synchronize their user settings and application settings data to the cloud, providing a unified experience across their devices and reducing the time needed for configuring a new device.

Lenders prefer the speed and breadth of information that online-based software provides. When lenders have quick access, customers get quick responses and customer service is perceived as fast and convenient.

Not only does this portal make remote work possible, but it keeps things secure as the mortgage industry embraces the remote working environment.

  1. Improved Security for Client Data

This single point of access protects company assets through multi-factor authentication, ensuring that data remains secure.

Further cyber security measures are managed using Windows Defender, an anti-malware component that keeps intrusions at bay for all devices joined to the MortgageWorkSpace network.

With MWS, there is a cloud-based firewall protecting the devices joined to your lending company’s network as well.

When security events do happen, this software gives the company the ability to remove company data from a mobile device or PC via remote access. This means that even if an employee’s device is stolen, the mortgage software keeps sensitive personal and financial information safe from hackers. 

  1. Effortless Compliance

Running parallel with cyber security, this software handles compliance regarding data security without needing to purchase, integrate, or maintain separate compliance software. MSW has what the industry calls “built-in” compliance features.

Other compliance issues faced by the mortgage industry are included in MSW. Documentation, record keeping, document expiration, and record retention are all features of this platform. This means that lenders using this software are always prepared for an audit without the last-minute scramble.

 In comparison to wider umbrella software, this platform is specifically built and maintained by developers who know the mortgage world.

Developed by California-based ABT, the company is an industry leader and watches the horizon for mortgage legislation that will affect their product’s performance. Lenders using MSW can be sure their software is not only up-to-date with compliance but that it will on boarding the most important finance trends as they happen.

  1. Integration Builds Capacity

Though compliance features are built-in, the platform remains flexible so that your lending company can utilize applications that give a competitive edge.

The Mortgage BI (business intelligence) dashboard powered by Microsoft gives unrivaled visibility to company data. This leads to data-based business decisions that improve the bottom line.

Analysis isn’t limited by this platform’s own BI capabilities though. MSW is vendor neutral so it integrates with loan origination systems, CRMs, Saas apps, on-premises networks, and plenty of proprietary software that makes business run more smoothly.

The days of paper-heavy processes for buying houses are numbered.

Developers are producing these sophisticated platforms that make the mortgage process better.

New financial management software is cloud-based, safe, and expandable. Customers can now enjoy a seamless experience thanks to platforms that give mortgage lenders speed and flexibility in their work.

Good software means agile lenders, which in turn means happy customers.

Does your mortgage company have outstanding software that improves this end-to-end experience?

MortgageWorkSpace is the award-winning business solution that mortgage lenders need. Learn more by visiting ABT.

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Topics: mobile device security email security data security phishing multi-factor authentication Business Intelligence cybersecurity Mortgage BI mortgage documents cloud storage productivity mortgage business mortgage industry cloud-based data Housing Market Mortgage Lending disaster recovery MBA

Cyber Security Seatbelts Save Digital Lives

digital seatbeltsWear a seatbelt—navigate your cloud-based systems with safety in mind. 

“Safety first.”

It’s a pretty easy idea to agree on. We all think safety is important.

So what do we do when customers say we aren’t being safe enough?

2017 saw the largest consumer data breach in world history. Equifax made international headlines for a breach that exposed the personal information of as many as 143 million people.

As Equifax knows well, financial and credit-related information is extremely valuable to cyber criminals. Hacks of this kind need to be protected against.

Consumer Safety

After many years of unsafe automobiles, consumers were tired of dangerous cars. They demanded that the industry clean up its act to make vehicles safer. With a little help from activists, car makers complied.

With government regulations in place, riding in a car has changed. Now all cars are made with seatbelts and few people get into a car without buckling up.

The auto industry’s move towards standard safety precautions can teach finance folks a lesson about how to face consumer demand for safety.

Cyber Seatbelt

Safety precautions for automotive vehicles began with the simple safety belt.

The seatbelt of the mortgage industry is MFA security, which keeps data safe.

The safest “seatbelt” on the market, it’s time to implement multi factor authentication when your company migrates into the cloud.

For your staff, a cloud-based workspace makes work convenient and accessible. For cyber criminals, migration to the cloud means they have a doorway to try and break in.

Also known as MFA, multi factor authentication is a nearly fool-proof way to prevent the wrong people from accessing your company’s data.

MFA requires that employees accessing the cloud have to enter at least 2 forms of digital identification. MFA validates that the person logging into the system is who they say they are. Whether by a text message to their company phone or another form of ID, staffers are let in and hackers are kept out.

MFA is so secure, it has become the modern standard for financial institutions. It was adopted by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PSI DSS) in February of 2017. It was also listed as the standard for the mortgage industry in New York’s new cyber security legislation.

For any financial institution that works in the cloud, MFA is the first safety precaution that can protect both the company and consumers.

If MFA is the visible seatbelt, what are the airbags that provide safety behind-the-scenes?

Cyber Airbags

Email Guardian is a product developed by a US-based company specifically to keep financial information secure for mortgage companies.

Its main job is to watch business email. It checks URLs on incoming messages to watch for phishing attacks. It filters every link and tests linked sites to make sure they are clean. If a link is dangerous, this program catches it and breaks the link before your staff can click-through.

It protects companies from intrusion by providing comprehensive, multi-layered email security and content controls. A web-based application especially for financial institutions and big business, this application handles dynamic security precautions including email encryption and security tracking as well.

Just like how airbags provide a layer of cushioned protection for car drivers and passengers, this innovative technology provides layers of security to keep email hackers at bay and avoid catastrophe.

With MFA and Email Guardian combined, your company data remains out of harm’s way.

Lessons from the Auto Industry

Just as with unsafe automobiles, consumers are reacting to the Equifax disaster by demanding that something be done about info protection for credit companies and mortgage brokers.

Government regulators have begun to react as well. New York introduced groundbreaking legislation to regulate cyber security for financial institutions. Colorado and Vermont are following suit.

When consumers make an industry-wide demand, companies need to pay attention.

Since widespread consumer outrage over information leaks continues making news and influencing regulators, mortgage companies are wise to adopt security measures and establish a basis of protection for their customers.

In the same situation decades ago, auto manufacturers made serious efforts to improve consumer protection for their products. Today carmakers are seen by the public as one of the most safety-conscious industries.

Taking care of consumer data is important if lenders want to be seen in the same light in the future.

ABT’s cutting-edge Email Guardian application provides strict security breach protection and data leakage prevention. Contact us to learn more.

Image: VisualHunt.com

Topics: Mortgage Cloud Services cyber security email security data security social networking safety cybersecurity security mobile technology mortgage industry HUD Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Compliance for Mortgage Companies Compliance Audit Housing Market network safety MBA

Why Mortgage Companies Need Built-In Compliance Tools

blog pic for Why Mortgage Companies Need Built-InBusiness data is available at your fingertips, but is it protected?

If your mortgage company isn’t talking about advanced data governance, you’ve missed the memo.

Mortgage companies around the world are facing 2018 with a regulatory backlash as a result of data breaches in the US and Europe.

Every company is scrambling to find the best cybersecurity options for financial data and figure out how to comply with stringent reporting regulations at the same time.

How can your mortgage company ensure that you are up-to-date with the newest industry standards in data governance?

Bolt-On vs. Built-In Data Governance

There are two types of compliance tools that financial institutions can use to follow the law.

Bolt-on refers to compliance tools that a business implements to interact with their existing computer-based financial systems.

Built-in refers to governance features that are part of the same computer system that they use to do their daily business activities including customer retention, storage, and database systems.

Bolt-on tools are a non-integrated option from the first wave of computer data compliance. Systems with built-in compliance features and built-in threat protection are the modern solution to meeting compliance standards.

Built-In Compliance Runs at the Speed of Business

The main issue with bolt-on tools is that they lack the visibility necessary to maintain compliance and keep moving at the pace of the company. For example, when working with outside vendors, mortgage companies are responsible for verifying vendor security.

The legal industry reports that using bolt-on tools can delay the on boarding of third-party vendors for up to 17 days and slow down overall revenue growth. Built-in options, due to being native to the system, move faster.

Built-ins can also coordinate with IT permissions on devices such as laptops and tablets used by third-party employees to access sensitive data. They offer high interactivity while bolt-on tends to offer single-process patches for cybersecurity issues.

As regulatory agencies push for never-before-seen requirements, bolt-on solutions don’t make financial sense anymore.

The True Cost of Built-On Compliance

Though switching to a new system is an investment, bolt-on solutions are actually more expensive in the end. The incremental investment is limitless; each new regulation requires a new patch.  

Instead, built-in systems work backwards by going all-in. They offer extreme security features that allow a company to scale back to the compliance limit.

Bolt-on solutions also cost man-hours. It creates busy work for employees who handle information instead of receiving a completed system report. When you factor in confusion and redundancy, the hours start to add up.

In the US, a time lag in reporting can mean trouble. New York State is blazing the trail for new cybersecurity regulations by mandating that mortgage companies have less than 72 hours to officially report a cyber attack or else face financial penalties.

With a built-in system, alerts are immediate and coverage is full from day one. Your financial services institution is protected from the risk associated with litigation and data breach.

Built-In Protection from Data Loss

ABT, a California-based company, has developed a platform for mortgage companies with built-in compliance tools called MortgageWorkSpace.

Systems like this take compliance out of employees’ hands and create strict policies that are enforced by the platform itself.

Since financial institutions are legally required to hold onto sensitive customer data for specific periods of time, a system like this allows the company to write the retention policy directly into the document management system. The system itself identifies, tags, and protects data for archive, even by custom query.

Integrated Security Features

Built-in systems have other data protection features that connect with employee activity.

For example, Felipe the Finance Director receives an email addressed from Ciara the COO but doesn’t notice that it isn’t from her company email address. Because the company email is integrated with the cybersecurity system, Felipe sees an alert that the sender’s email address is suspect and likely a phishing attempt.

Even if Felipe opens the email and clicks on an unsafe link, the system will take Felipe to a safe link where he is alerted again not to proceed. This type of security safety net is possible because built-in security can transparently see activity system-wide and isn’t limited to a single platform.

Built-in security tools helps catch phishing links, unsafe attachments, unsafe webpage links, malware, and spam so that breaches are prevented.

As data governance regulations increase in almost every global financial market, mortgage companies can remain compliant by implementing cybersecurity measures that are fast, transparent, complete, and save the company money in the long run.

The best way to meet these ever-rising regulations is to get outfitted with a platform that handles compliance as a built-in feature of the system.

MortgageWorkSpace is a business solution that allows mortgage companies to comply with full industry requirements regarding sensitive data. Learn more about cybersecurity for mortgage companies by visiting ABT.

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Topics: Mortgage Servicing in the Cloud Access Business Technologies MortgageExchange cyber security information security for mortgage companies DeviceGuardian MortgageWorkSpace data security mortgage company security financial data security multi-factor authentication Business Intelligence cybersecurity mortgage industry cloud-based data Housing Market

How to Protect Your Devices from Bad Guys

how to protectA businessman takes his work laptop home.

What exactly happens when a company device gets stolen?

Imagine that Richard is a loan officer for a mortgage company. He is behind on email and decides to take his work laptop home over the weekend. After a few hours at a coffee shop, he gets up to use the restroom. Two minutes later when Richard returns, the laptop is gone.

Are the files on Richard’s computer safe? If Richard has remote access to company systems, will there be a data breach? Can the thief access all of Richard’s accounts and client information? What exactly is at risk here?

Keeping Data Safe from Hackers

Stolen laptops are more common than you might think.

Kensington reports that over 70 million cell phones are lost each year and one laptop is stolen in the US every 53 seconds.

The laptop thief’s hope is that he can gain access to all the passwords and sensitive information contained in the device. Selling stolen data is profitable; the device itself is not actually the most lucrative part of the theft. Getting a corporate device would be like hitting the jackpot then, right?

Well, it all depends on what kind of data protection measures the company has in place. For financial institutions dealing with sensitive personal data on a daily basis, it’s important to have a system with the most cutting-edge cybersecurity features in place.

MortgageWorkSpace, a platform that won HousingWire’s Tech100 Lending category for 2018, is one such system.

With MortgageWorkSpace protection, Richard’s stolen machine will remain on lock-down and safe from hackers.

The Windows Operating System on Richard’s computer has a program that encrypts system and user files on the device called BitLocker. The laptop also uses Windows Defender Credential Guard, a security program that uses virtualization to isolate sensitive files and keep unauthorized people from accessing that system data.

In Richard’s case, the thieves have no choice but to wipe the machine and lose all the data.

Great. Richard’s data is safe, but it’s all lost. What is he supposed to do about work?

Getting Back to Work

Richard still needs access to his files and the computer programs that he uses every day to do his job.

To make sure that Richard can return to work, MortgageWorkSpace has an advanced continuity feature called “lost device re-provisioning.” This means that when Richard’s device is reported stolen, the system shuts down his previous portal and passwords. When he authenticates his identity on a new machine, he will have all the same data from his previous machine and full access to work-critical programs.

This is the beauty of a cloud-based system like MortgageWorkSpace. All the system files are located in the cloud and not on Richard’s local machine. He doesn’t lose even a single day of work because of his missing computer.

MortgageWorkSpace uses Richard’s corporate credentials and multi-factor authentication to identify that Richard is not one of the sneaky hackers and he is back into the system on a different computer.

Richard’s company has other strict security options to choose from. For the authentication process, the company can require a user-created PIN to identify him as an employee. Some modern companies are even switching to biometric identification like fingerprint and facial recognition technology rather than PIN numbers, which can be guessed.

Whether low-tech or high-tech, the key is to have multiple authentication steps that are difficult for hackers to duplicate so that sensitive system data remains hidden from the prying eyes of laptop thieves.

More importantly, Richard’s company doesn’t experience a system-wide data breach. Forbes Magazine reports that nearly 41% of the data breach events from 2005 to 2015 were due to lost and stolen devices.

Thanks to technology, Richard’s customers’ information is safe and the company’s reputation remains intact. That’s what’ the most advanced security system has to offer the mortgage industry. . While the security gates are keeping the bad guys out, people like Richard can stay productive and customers can stay safe.

For financial institutions, this type of lost device re-provisioning feature is essential for business continuity.

Businesses protected by MortgageWorkSpace don’t need to worry when a company laptop or mobile device is stolen.  Contact us to learn more about cloud-based mortgage and cyber security solutions.

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Topics: DeviceGuardian mobile device security mobility mobile workforce mortgage company security financial data security phishing multi-factor authentication cybersecurity security cloud storage productivity mortgage business mortgage industry Housing Market Mortgage Lending

2018 Changes in Banking Technology Part II

blog pic 3Finance customers turn to mobile banking technology.

New technology continues to change the banking landscape.

For mortgage lenders, finance technology or “fintech” startups are competing to attract lending clients.

Smartphone-obsessed customers are more mobile than ever and the number of banking platforms has exploded. With 46% of consumers using only digital channels for their banking, the way that customers handle their finances is taking a huge shift.

Here are 3 more ways that new technology is changing the banking industry in 2018.

  1. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity in the financial industry is experiencing a worldwide crackdown in response to infamous missteps in 2017.

Last year was rough. Large businesses from Uber to Equifax came clean with the public about record-breaking customer data breaches.

As a result, new regulations concerning finance-related cybersecurity have made it onto the books in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Stricter regulations even include naming and shaming in the public forum. For example, starting in 2018 the Financial Conduct Authority requires UK banks to publish data on how many complaints and security breaches they have encountered throughout the year.

Formerly held accountable by regulatory bodies within the banking industry, now financial institutions will be facing not only federal law but public opinion. With leaders like the EU, the UK, and the US taking the lead, other world markets are sure to follow.

High-tech options in identification and recognition are hitting the market as a way to shore up security. Biometric security and voice verification software are in development and beta testing. The new measuring stick for basic security begins at multi-factor authentication.

Mortgage lenders at any level would be smart to take notice and sort out their cybersecurity issues. The only other option is to risk having their name added to the growing list of internationally untrustworthy companies in the eyes of consumers.

  1. Mobile Investing

Another new technology on the market takes investment consultations out of the local branch and drops it right into the investor’s pocket.

A full 82% of 18 to 24-year-old smartphone owners say they use mobile banking exclusively. 

Feeding the demand for putting banking applications onto mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, fintech is making lending and investing more accessible than ever.

This new wave of mobile finance is letting millennial do-it-yourselfers have all the control by using plain language and visuals to explain financial terms. Bankers are replaced by explanatory screens and animations. Investment apps even let new customers dip their toes in the investing game by allowing customers to have a “practice run” before dealing with actual money.

Small-scale investment companies are reshaping the barriers to entry by allowing new investors to get in the game for as little as £250 in the UK. These game changers are coming about due to aims of open banking legislation strategies for reducing monopolies.

This new family of mobile investing apps offers greater control than traditional banks over their mobile-based portfolios, even allowing customers to pick and choose investment baskets based on trending labels like “socially responsible tech”.

  1. New Technologies

Beyond cybersecurity and innovation in mobile investing technology, there is a host of newly-developed niche finance technologies hitting the market.

Robo investing automates the risk appetite assessment process.

Full integration of voice assistants are popping up. Capital One partner Alexa can now tell customers their account balances and spending habits after a night out.

Though historically skeptical towards bitcoin and cryptocurrency, credit giant Mastercard changed their tune in 2018 and announced open support for virtual currency in the Asian-Pacific market.

It’s too early to predict which of these new technologies will have staying power and which ones just won’t stick, but they all have one thing in common. They all work on the basis of a hybrid platform that combines human and computer-based tools to carry out financial services.

These new integrations of technology into the banking world are already changing the way that consumers approach banking.

With 2018 is primed to be the year that tech saturates the finance industry, mortgage lenders and other traditional finance institutions have no choice but to take notice.

Join us at the cutting edge of technology with regulation-compliant cyber security, remote device access, and more. ABT equips mortgage lenders with the tools for success in a digital world.

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Topics: mortgage regulations mobile technology mortgage industry partnerships Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Compliance for Mortgage Companies Compliance Audit job opportunity Trump Administration Mortgage Lending

What Technology Is Changing In Banking For 2018

blog pic 4In the future, financial information and programming will be increasingly available on-the-go.

The old days of purely brick-and-mortar banks are over.

Mobile banking is the preferred platform as global smartphone use skyrockets and our preference for handheld interaction grows.

In 2011 only 10% of the world’s population used a smartphone. By 2018, that number has reached over 36% penetration.

From traditional commercial banks to finance technology or “fintech” startups, the banking industry is competing in an all-out sprint towards digital progress.

Here are 4 ways that technology is changing the banking industry in 2018.

  1. Open Banking

Open banking is a phenomenon being pushed by regulatory bodies around the world.

Lawmakers in the EU, UK, and the US have all passed legislation that takes personal financial data out of the hands of the banks and returns control to consumers.

The EU’s Payment Services Directives (PSD 2007 and PSD2 2015) will be fully implemented this year.

Together the PSDs regulate financial service providers by requiring transparency about consumer rights and the banks’ obligations to the public. They also require banks to free up customer data for third party access, limiting the power of the bank that gathered it.

The EU regulations coincide with the “Open Banking revolution” in the United Kingdom that intends to make banking more competitive for increased consumer protection. The UK also made it mandatory for all banks to provide third-party access to customer financial data using open API technology at the start of 2018.

In the wake of the Equifax data breach on the other side of the Atlantic, the United States made their move towards stricter regulations beginning in 2017 with the state of New York. US laws are focused on cybersecurity and consumer protection via speedy cyber attack reporting and increased government oversight of consumer data mishandling.

The proximity of these launch dates mean that traditional banks around the world face new technology-based limitations. Open banking and cyber security requirements leave the door open for tech-savvy challengers with a spotless reputation for safeguarding the public.

  1. RegTech

Another technology changing global banking in 2018 is regulation technology or “RegTech”.

RegTech is the umbrella term for software tools specifically designed to streamline regulatory compliance.

In the EU, RegTech has been using guidelines from the 2004 and 2011 Markets in Financial Instruments Directives (MiFID) as well as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2014.

Newly developed RegTech takes new 2018 regulations into account and eliminates duplication issues and insufficient data storage signposting.

Due to increased regulation, the adoption of these programs across the industry will determine which finance organizations move ahead and which ones get stuck hitting every legal bump in the road.

If implemented well, RegTech has the potential to significantly reduce risk, speed up compliance management, and control bank costs despite increased accountability.

  1. Robo Advice

“Robo advice” is the term for technology that does traditionally human jobs in investment banking.

In the past, investment managers evaluated a customer’s financial situation, communicated investment options, assessed risk appetite, handled portfolios according to client preferences, and relayed information about performance back to the investor.

Robo advice is the software and algorithms that provide these services digitally and accessibly on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Millennials aged 22-37 prefer to work with apps and digital information over commercial banks. The demographic has a do-it-yourself attitude and shows an aversion to traditional banking institutions that have steered them into crushing student debt.

In fact, 75% of American millennials report trusting a financial product from a fintech company. Almost half of millennials in the US with investments report being aware of robo-advisors, while a full 11% currently use a robo-advisor exclusively.

With a frictionless user experience, robo advice may become the new norm.

  1. New Technology

In the UK, financial services newcomers are edging out traditional banks. Startup lenders like Iwoca in the UK are touted as the “future of small business lending” by using software algorithms to make credit decisions and having quick loan turnaround thanks to fintech.

By using all-digital or hybrid platforms combining human and algorithmic tools to reach customers, other digitally-native finance startups are slated to follow their lead.

Whether it’s anti-monopoly Open Banking APIs, intelligent RegTech software to handle compliance, or the growing preference for robo advice over human interaction, technology is making huge waves in the global banking industry this year.

As the digitally-native generations grow, traditional financial institutions scramble to expand their digital offerings while fintech startups flourish and join the market.

Join us at the cutting edge of technology with regulation-compliant cyber security, remote device access, and more. ABT equips mortgage lenders with the tools for success in a digital world.

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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.

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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

Time for Lenders to Take Responsibility for Data Security

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Lenders and customers face the dangers lurking in the finance world.

Since when do finance organizations rely on customers for security advice?

An investigation into US mortgage lending practices found that 70% of lenders regularly put sensitive financial data at risk by prioritizing customer convenience over security.

While customers often choose to send personal information via quick and familiar technology such as fax or unencrypted personal email, lenders continue to look the other way rather than correct these dangerous habits.

Something has gone awry in the lending industry and customers are taking notice.

It’s the responsibility of the lender to uphold security measures. Lenders have security tools at their disposal. Instead of leaving the doors open to data thieves, they should be insisting on secure email portals and other measures that protect the consumer.

As technology advances for both financial institutions and the data thieves that seek to attack them, it’s time for lenders to take the reins when it comes to customer security.

Financial Services are at High Risk

The two main dangers facing the finance industry are data breaches and security incidents.

A security incident describes any occurrence that has the potential to compromise consumer information. This can be an attempted data theft or an attempted hack into a computer system that stores sensitive information.

A data breach is more serious. Breaches are confirmed disclosures to an unauthorized party. Breaches represent a complete failure of the security system to keep the wrong people out.

An investigation of data breaches across industries finds that Financial Service organizations like mortgage lenders fall into the top three industries affected by successful hacks. In fact 2016 saw 1,368 security incidents and 795 confirmed data loss cases in the finance industry.

Given the value of the data that mortgage lenders collect, mortgage companies remain among the most vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Cyber Security Issues to Watch For

As mentioned, one security vulnerability is with lending staff. Sophisticated cybersecurity standards don’t mean anything if your employees are side-stepping official procedure. Documents with any sort of consumer data should only be shared within secured environments.

Round up the staff and reiterate how the company (and perhaps their job) relies on following the rules. Employee negligence and unsafe information disposal are not to be tolerated.

It’s also a good idea to get coordinated with your IT department. Are staff members using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets to handle sensitive information? Your IT department can install security measures like password protection and encryption so that these devices are cleared for proper company use.

Besides training and an IT device round-up, make sure your software access is secure. Multi-factor authentication or MFA is another way to seriously step up your security game.

After you’ve cleaned house, check your neighbors. Third-party services and their software tools cannot be overlooked. Anything handled by another organization that concerns your company’s customers should meet the same stringent security standards that you enforce in-house.

The Financial Cost of Cyber Attacks

Though financial institutions may have always had customer security in mind, the industry has felt the backlash in recent years.

Historically respected companies are losing consumer confidence. Beyond topping lists for riskiest industry, some of the big names have taken very public falls.

Equifax, a national name in credit scoring, experienced a hack in late 2017. The breach resulted in unsavory national headlines, a PR crisis, the involvement of the FTC, and a resulting push for never-before-seen legislation that regulates the whole industry.

Beyond reputations, there is money at stake. The financial cost of cyber attacks has been on the rise in recent years.

The average cost per capita of a Financial Services data breach in the US has increased by 10% in three years. In 2016 it reached $221 per person as a shared cost that consumers are burdened with thanks to lenders being devil-may-care with their information.

With consumers taking the hit and their financial institutions being degraded by cyber attacks, the industry is set to lose a lot of money.

Clearly, it’s time for a serious turn towards cyber security in order to prop the industry up in the eyes of consumers.

For mortgage lenders, it’s time to turn away from business as usual and make a serious effort to put cybersecurity at the top of the priority list. Not only will this protect valued customers, but it will save the reputation of an industry that has taken enough hits.

Businesses protected by a cloud-based portal with access secured by MFA are leading the industry in the push for cyber security. To find out about security-focused programs like Document Guardian contact ABT.

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