Where is the safest place to store a valuable item: in a locked box in your home, or in a safe deposit box at a bank? It should be obvious that something of value will be better protected at a bank, even though it's out of your immediate possession. Banks have better security procedures, trained staff, and less penetrable physical structures.
The same concept applies to your data storage. Storing loan application information on a desktop computer at your office exposes it to significantly more risk than entrusting it to a reputable cloud service. Breaches in security, mostly caused by haste or lack of experience, have caused numerous compromises of mortgage data.
Let's look at some of the reasons why cloud storage can offer better security to a mortgage business:
- Cloud facilities are physically secure; your building is not. Anyone who walks into your office can see what machines you’re using. Even with normal building security, someone might be able to sneak in after hours and tamper with a computer or steal a hard drive. Even someone surreptitiously plugging in a malicious USB stick during business hours might be enough. Cloud facilities are in locked buildings that allow few visitors and have careful check-in procedures at all times.
- Data on a cloud server is always backed up. Your data will be stored in more than one location at all times, so a disk failure or even a disaster in one place won't wipe out your information.
- Your data is isolated from other software. On a desktop system, the general rule is that any of your software can access any of your files. A weakness anywhere in your system can compromise confidential customer data. On a cloud system, only authorized software has access to your data; there is no risk of email downloads or malicious web pages accessing your system.
- Data transfer between branches is secure. If you use ordinary email to send a document to a co-worker at another location, it passes through one or more mail servers without encryption and is vulnerable to interception. When you transfer data through a cloud service, it is encrypted both going in and coming out.
- Cloud service software is always up to date. Keeping your operating system and software up to date all the time is a lot of work, especially when you have other work to do. But old software tends to have known security defects. Because a cloud business must provide the most reliable servers possible, it updates its software promptly and regularly.
- A cloud service monitors its computers. Cloud service providers are always monitoring their hardware; if anything goes wrong, the problem is caught and remedied quickly. This same level of monitoring is nearly impossible to maintain at a busy mortgage office.
Aside from these technical factors, "people factors" also make the cloud more secure for mortgage companies than their own desktop machines:
- Security is at the core of a cloud business. At a mortgage business, the first concern is mortgages. It's easy to neglect security for the sake of getting work done. For a cloud service provider, keeping data safe is the work they do.
- Cloud servers don't engage in risky behavior. Unlike the average employee, cloud servers never accidentally open a spam email or browse websites out of curiosity. Even the most innocent click of a mouse can endanger your data.
- A full-time staff is always ready to deal with problems. A cloud service utilizes monitoring software, which is always watching for breaches and suspicious activity. If the monitoring software detects something has gone wrong, trained staff members will deal with it quickly. On your local computer, if a breach occurs outside business hours, the attacker might have hours to exploit it before anyone notices.
- A specialized cloud service provider has security expertise tailored to your industry. When you choose a cloud service that specializes in your area of business (e.g. finance), it employs experts who understand the risks and requirements that are specific to handling your type of data.
Of course, everything we have listed here assumes that you're dealing with a reputable, competent cloud service provider. Anyone can claim to provide "cloud computing," but you have to know what you're really getting. Using insecure cloud services to transfer loan documents is actually the riskiest way to transfer them—even worse than email. Consumer-quality file sharing systems and cloud systems specifically designed for security are two completely different things.
You need a service with a strong reputation for security and privacy. Even your own access to the service should entail strong security protocols. You need a written guarantee that the service will protect your data from unauthorized access. And for finance-related businesses, the service needs to satisfy all applicable regulations and guarantee security compliance.
At Access Business Technologies, we understand the mortgage business. ABT provides a cloud-based platform called MortgageWorkSpace®, which meets all of a mortgage company's storage and security needs. MortgageWorkSpace® meets SSAE 16 Type II standards and meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements, while still granting secure access to authorized users from any location. Contact us to learn more.